The distribution of beta-amyloid precursor protein (APP) was examined immunocytochemically in rats subjected to focal cerebral ischemia by permanent occlusion of the middle cerebral artery. At 4 and 7 days post-occlusion, APP immunoreactivity was preferentially localized within axonal swellings, dystrophic neurites and neuronal perikarya all along the periphery of the infarct. Immunolabeling was observed with antibodies generated against N-terminal, midregion, and C-terminal domains of APP. No immunoreactivity was observed with antisera directed against beta-amyloid protein (beta A4) itself. This pathological accumulation of APP is consistent with alterations of APP recently described in other models of neurodegeneration and implies a role for this protein in the response to CNS injury.