Many biochemically diverse proteins can give rise to amyloid fibrils; however, they are all accompanied by P component and glucosaminoglycans. With antibodies specific to apolipoprotein E (apo E) we used immunohistochemical techniques to test for the presence of this protein in both cerebral and systemic amyloid. We found apo E immunoreactivity in all tested types of cerebral and systemic amyloid. In amyloid deposits apo E P, component and glucosaminoglycans may be acting as 'pathological molecular chaperones'. The latter we define as a group of unrelated proteins that induce beta-pleated conformation in amyloidogenic polypeptides.