Five ATP-binding cassette (ABC) subfamily-A transporters (ABCA1, ABCA2, ABCA3, ABCA7 and ABCA8) are expressed in the brain. These transporters may regulate brain lipid transport; however, their relative expression level in isolated human brain cells is unknown. We developed real-time polymerase chain reaction assays to quantify the expression of these genes in human neurons, astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, microglia and cell lines. Neurons expressed predominantly ABCA1 and ABCA3; astrocytes ABCA1, ABCA2 and ABCA3; microglia ABCA1 and oligodendrocytes ABCA2 and ABCA3. Although ABCA7 and ABCA8 expression was relatively low in all cells, the highest expression occurred in microglia and neurons, respectively. ABCA gene expression in the NTERA-2 and MO3.13 cell lines closely resembled the ABCA expression pattern of primary neurons and oligodendrocytes, respectively.