Abnormal expression of human amyloid precursor protein (hAPP) gene products may play a critical role in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Recently, a transgenic model was established in which platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) promoter-driven neuronal expression of an alternatively spliced hAPP minigene resulted in prominent AD-type neuropathology (Games, D., Adams, D., Alessandrini, R., Barbour, R., Berthelette, P., Blackwell, C., Carr, T., Clemens, J., Donaldson, T., Gillespie, F., Guido, T., Hagopian, S., Johnson-Wood, K., Khan, K., Lee, M., Leibowitz, P., Lieberburg, I., Little, S., Masliah, E., McConlogue, L., Montoya-Zavala, M., Mucke, L., Paganini, L., and Penniman, E. (1995) Nature 373, 523-527). Here we compared the levels and alternative splicing of APP transcripts in brain tissue of hAPP transgenic and nontransgenic mice and of humans with and without AD. PDGF-hAPP mice showed severalfold higher levels of total APP mRNA than did nontransgenic mice or humans, whereas their endogenous mouse APP mRNA levels were decreased. This resulted in a high ratio of mRNAs encoding mutated hAPP versus wild-type mouse APP. Modifications of hAPP introns 6, 7, and 8 in the PDGF-hAPP construct resulted in a prominent change in alternative splice site selection with transcripts encoding hAPP770 or hAPP751 being expressed at substantially higher levels than hAPP695 mRNA. Frontal cortex of humans with AD showed a subtle increase in the relative abundance of hAPP751 mRNA compared with normal controls. These data identify specific intron sequences that may contribute to the normal neuronspecific alternative splicing of APP pre-mRNA in vivo and support a causal role of hAPP gene products in the development of AD-type brain alterations.