The most prominent microtubule-associated protein of the neuronal cytoskeleton is MAP2. In the brain it exists as a pair of high-molecular weight proteins, MAP2a and MAP2b, and a smaller form, MAP2c, which is particularly abundant in the developing brain. High-molecular weight MAP2 is expressed in dendrites, where its messenger RNA is also located, but is not found in axons; it has been shown to be present in fine filaments that crosslink dendritic microtubules. This correlates with the primary structure of high-molecular weight MAP2, which consists of a short carboxy-terminal tubulin-binding domain and a long amino-terminal arm, which forms a filamentous sidearm on reconstituted microtubules. Here we report that the high- and low-molecular weight forms of MAP2 are generated by alternative splicing and share the entire C-terminal tubulin-binding domain as well as a short N-terminal sequence. In contrast to high molecular weight MAP2, embryonic brain MAP2c lacks 1,342 amino acids from the filamentous sidearm domain. Furthermore, the mRNA for low molecular weight MAP2c is not present in dendrites, indicating that the dendritic targeting signal is specific for the high-molecular weight form.