N-acetylaspartate (NAA) is one of the most prevalent compounds in the mammalian nervous system. As such, NAA largely contributes to the major peak on water-suppressed proton magnetic resonance spectra. Highly specific antibodies to NAA demonstrate that this compound is discretely localized in a substantial number of neurons throughout the extent of the rat CNS. N-acetylaspartylglutamate (NAAG) is a structurally related neuronal dipeptide which is less widely distributed than NAA. NAAG and NAA immunoreactivities were extensively colocalized in many brainstem areas, where NAAG containing neurons were more numerous than in forebrain structures.