The presence of extracellular deposits of beta-amyloid protein in the brain is a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease (AD). In an effort to determine the effect of amyloid in an animal model, the authors injected amyloid cores isolated from AD brains into the cortex and hippocampus of rats. Lipofuscin, a major contaminant of the plaque core preparation, was injected on the contralateral side and used as a control to induce an analogous phagocytic cell response. Rats were sacrificed 2 days, 7 days, and 1 month after injection and amyloid located by four histochemical techniques. Amyloid and lipofuscin move from the site of injection into otherwise undamaged neuropil, persist for at least 1 month and are both associated with increases in glial fibrillary acidic protein and microglia (OX-42) staining. By 1 week, many of the amyloid cores are ingested by phagocytes. Some of the beta-amyloid-containing phagocytes migrate to the vessels and to the ventricles, and by 1 month, a significant amount of the amyloid is directly associated with the vessels. This suggests that phagocytic cells can internalize exogenous amyloid and attempt to clear it from the central nervous system (CNS). Therefore, the observed distribution of amyloid is not necessarily the initial site of deposition.