Endopeptidase-24.11 is a 90-kDa surface glycoprotein with the ability to hydrolyze a variety of biologically active peptides. Interest in this enzyme is based on the consensus that it may play a role in the termination of peptide signals in the central nervous system. In the present study, we have investigated the distribution of endopeptidase-24.11 in two nerves of the peripheral nervous system of newborn pigs: the sciatic, composed of a mixture of myelinated and nonmyelinated axons, and cervical sympathetic trunk in which greater than 99% of the axons are nonmyelinated. The endopeptidase was monitored enzymatically, as well as by immunoblotting and immunocytochemistry using mono- and polyclonal anti-endopeptidase antibodies. Endopeptidase-24.11 was detected in both the sciatic nerve and the cervical sympathetic trunk. Membrane preparations from sciatic nerve hydrolyzed 125I-insulin B-chain, and more than 50% of the activity was inhibited by phosphoramidon with an IC50 concentration of 3.2 nM. Moreover, a 90-kDa polypeptide was detected by immunoblotting of sciatic nerve membranes. The type of cells expressing the endopeptidase was determined by immunohistochemistry. In teased nerve preparations, these cells were identified morphologically as myelin- and non-myelin-forming Schwann cells. Endopeptidase-24.11 was also expressed by cultured Schwann cells from sciatic nerve and cervical sympathetic trunk maintained for 3 h in vitro. The presence of endopeptidase-24.11 on the Schwann cell surface raises the possibility of a potential role for the enzyme in nerve development and/or regeneration.