Microtubule associated proteins MAP1B and MAP2 are important components of the neuronal cytoskeleton. During early development of the brain, MAP1B (340 kDa) is present as two isoforms that differ in their level of phosphorylation, while MAP2 is expressed as a single high molecular weight isoform (MAP2B, 280 kDa) and a low molecular weight form (MAP2C, 70 kDa). In this study we examined and compared the sensitivities of MAP1B and MAP2, obtained from MT preparations and brain homogenates of young rats, to degradation by calcium-activated neutral protease, calpain II. We found that in MAPs prepared from microtubules the two isoforms of MAP1B had comparable sensitivity to calpain-mediated proteolysis. Similarly, the high and low molecular weight forms of MAP2 were equally sensitive to digestion by calpain. However, although both MAPs were very susceptible to calpain-mediated proteolysis, MAP1B was more resistant to degradation by calpain than MAP2. Furthermore, the endogenous degradation of MAPs in neonate brain homogenates was calcium-dependent and inhibited by leupeptin, and the pattern of degradation products for MAP1B and MAP2 was similar to that of calpain-mediated proteolysis. These data suggest that calpain can play a role in the regulation of MAPs levels during brain development, in relation to normal neuronal differentiation and disorders associated with neurodegeneration.