Tau protein has been shown to be an integral component of Alzheimer paired helical filaments (PHF). However, the extent to which tau is incorporated into PHF has not been clear because the antibodies used to label PHF generally do not have precisely defined epitopes. Here we define the antigenic sites for five monoclonal antibodies that react with tau and cross-react with SDS-extracted neurofibrillary tangles. The reactive sites were determined by screening a lambda gt11 sublibrary expressing small fragments of the tau sequence. The mapped epitopes were found to span almost the entire length of tau, suggesting that PHF contains tau in its entirety or nearly in its entirety. One antibody was found to cross-react with microtubule-associated protein 2, implying some degree of homology between the two proteins.