The mucosal addressin cell adhesion molecule (MAdCAM) and vascular cell adhesion molecule (VCAM) appear to play roles in the recruitment of leukocytes to specialized endothelium lining the gastrointestinal tract. The purpose of this study was to clarify the role of MAdCAM and VCAM in the central nervous system by comparing protein expression in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and control subjects by immunohistochemistry. Specific antibodies to human VCAM and MAdCAM were used to confirm expression in control and MS nervous system specimens by immunohistochemistry. VCAM immunoreactivity was detected in endothelial cells, perivascular tissue, and in some cases, leukocytes within the meninges, gray, and white matter, of both controls and MS patients. VCAM immunoreactivity was maximal in a patient with acute active plaques, but of lower intensity and reduced distribution in controls and those with chronic active or inactive MS plaques. In contrast, MAdCAM immunoreactivity could not be detected in brain tissue from unaffected or MS patients. Taken together, these data support a role of VCAM, but not MAdCAM in the development of MS.