The expression of CD59, a complement regulator of the formation and function of the terminal cytolytic membrane attack complex, was studied in human normal nervous tissue by immunohistochemical markers using two monoclonal antibodies 1F5 and MEM43. CD59 was present on Schwann cells, neurons and endothelial cells in the peripheral nervous system (PNS), and on Schwann cells in culture. In the central nervous system (CNS) CD59 was found predominantly on endothelial cells. There was also a diffuse staining of white and grey matter of the spinal cord and brain, presumably of microglia, oligodendrocytes, astrocytes and neurons, as these cells were CD59 positive in culture. Furthermore, CD59 was detected in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of healthy individuals. CD59 in the PNS and CNS was glycosyl-phosphatidylinositol linked and had a molecular weight of 19,000-25,000. The presence of CD59 on various cells of the nervous system and in the CSF suggests that regulation of complement activation by this protein is important in neural host defence mechanisms.