The fibrinolytic activity of blood is caused by plasminogen activators (PA) converting plasminogen to plasmin, the active fibrinolytic protease. PA activity in rat neural tissues was studied by Todd's fibrin slide technique. Cryostat sections overlayed with a film of plasminogen and fibrin were incubated for 60-90 min. PA activity was related to the size of the zone of fibrinolysis surrounding the sections. No lysis occurred with fibrin alone. In rats perfused with saline prior to decapitation the size of the zone of lysis was approximately the same as in non-perfused animals. PA activity was compared in the following tissues: adult (2-3 month) cerebellum and 6-14-day postnatal cerebellum; normal sciatic nerve and transected sciatic nerve 1-9 weeks after operation (in these experiments the sciatic nerve was crushed on the left side, on the right side it was transected and the stumps were tightly ligated to prevent regeneration); normal optic nerves and optic nerves undergoing Wallerian degeneration 1-2 weeks after enucleation of the eye. As compared to normal cerebellum PA activity was increased in 6-14-day cerebellum. PA activity was also markedly increased in both crushed and ligated sciatic nerves 1-4 weeks after operation while no differences were observed between normal sciatic nerves and sciatic nerves 9 weeks after ligation. The zone of fibrinolysis surrounding normal optic nerves and the optic nerves of blinded rats was approximately the same. It is proposed that the fibrinolytic system may be relevant to the problem of CNS regeneration.