Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor (MPNST) can be difficult to diagnose because it lacks specific immunohistochemical markers. S-100, which is a useful marker of MPNST, has limited diagnostic utility. Recent studies suggest that nestin, which is an intermediate filament protein, is expressed in neuroectodermal stem cells. The diagnostic utility of immunostains for nestin and three other neural markers (S-100, CD56 and protein gene product 9.5 (PGP 9.5)) were evaluated in 35 cases of MPNST and in other spindle cell tumors. All MPNST cases were strongly positive for nestin and had cytoplasmic staining. Stains for S-100, CD56, and PGP 9.5 were positive in fewer cases (17/35, 11/35, and 29/35 cases, respectively), and had less extensive staining. Nestin was negative in 10/10 leiomyomas, and weak nestin expression was seen in 10/10 schwannomas, 3/10 neurofibromas, 2/8 synovial sarcomas, 2/10 liposarcomas, 4/7 carcinosarcomas and 3/7 malignant fibrous histiocytomas. In contrast, strong nestin positivity was seen in 10/10 rhabdomyosarcomas, 15/19 leiomyosarcomas, and 9/9 desmoplastic melanomas. Nestin is more sensitive for MPNST than other neural markers and immunostains for nestin in combination with other markers could be useful in the diagnosis of MPNST.