L1 is a representative of a family of carbohydrate neural cell adhesion molecules. The expression of L1 was studied during postnatal development of the rat pyramidal tract by immunohistology using polyclonal antibodies to L1 in spinal cord cervical intumescences. On postnatal day 1 (P1), L1 immunoreactivity was present in the entire dorsal funiculus, consisting of the ascending fasciculus gracilis and fasciculus cuneatus and the descending pyramidal tract. At that time the cervical pyramidal tract contains the first outgrowing corticospinal axons. At P4 both the fasciculus gracilis and the pyramidal tract are immunoreactive whereas the fasciculus cuneatus is negative. At P10 the pyramidal tract is intensely labelled whereas both ascending bundles are negatively stained. In the period between P4 and P10 the pyramidal tract is characterized by a massive outgrowth of corticospinal axons. During pyramidal tract myelination, between P10 and the end of the third postnatal week (P21), L1 immunoreactivity is progressively reduced. These observations suggest that L1 may play a prominent role in outgrowth, fasciculation and the onset of myelination of rat pyramidal tract axons. The differential L1 immunoreactivity of the pyramidal tract and the earlier developing ascending systems in rat dorsal funiculus indicate that this polyclonal antiserum is a useful differentiating marker for outgrowing fibre tracts.