The enolase (EC 18.104.22.168) isoenzymes, neuron-specific enolase (NSE, gamma gamma) and non-neuronal enolase (NNE, alpha alpha), are markers for neurons and glia, respectively, in adult mammalian brain. In developing fetal and early postnatal brain, levels of non-neuronal enolase (NNE) are high. Neuron-specific enolase (NSE) appears only after neurogenesis begins in a given region and only slowly attains adult levels. Immunocytochemistry in developing rat and rhesus monkey brain reveals that proliferative zones that give rise to neurons are NNE(+). Thus, nerve cells must undergo a switch from NNE to NSE. In addition, study of neurons in cerebellum and neocortex reveals that they are NNE(+) during migration and only become NSE(+) in their final location, presumably after making full synaptic connections. Such migrating cells may contain hybrid enolase (alpha gamma) and some (e.g. cerebellar stellate/basket cells) may not completely switch over to NSE even in the adult. Neuron-specific enolase is not only a specific molecular marker for mature nerve cells, but is closely correlated to the differentiated state.