In the brain of adult mice, cell division persists in the subventricular zone (SVZ) of the lateral ventricles. These SVZ cells migrate rostrally 3-5 mm to the olfactory bulb, where they differentiate into neurons. We have investigated the distribution of PSA-N-CAM in the adult mouse forebrain. Immunoreactivity for PSA-N-CAM precisely reveals the migratory pathway of SVZ cells. This pathway of PSA-N-CAM positive cells starts in the lateral wall of the lateral ventricle, where immunopositive cells form weblike patterns. The PSA-N-CAM positive pathway extends rostrally between the corpus callosum and the striatum into the anterior ventral telencephalon, and then into the core of the olfactory bulb. Experiments in which [3H]-thymidine was injected systemically indicated that the majority of the dividing cells on the SVZ of the lateral ventricle and along the migratory pathway are positive to PSA-N-CAM or closely associated with PSA-N-CAM. Microinjection of [3H]-thymidine into the SVZ of the lateral ventricle to label a small patch of dividing SVZ cells shows that neuroblasts that migrated away from the injection site are positive or are closely associated with other cells that are positive for PSA-N-CAM. Migrating cells are tethered together, forming long chains of immunopositive cells. The migratory pathway is formed by 30-40 of these immunopositive chains. Radially oriented individual PSA-N-CAM positive cells were observed in the olfactory bulb. These cells seem to have broken away from chains of immunopositive cells in the core of the olfactory bulb and to be migrating to more superficial layers. Little is known about the mechanisms of tangential migration during development and in adulthood. The cell-cell arrangement revealed by PSA-N-CAM staining suggests new models for this form of neuronal migration. PSA-N-CAM localization along the migratory pathway to the olfactory bulb suggests that in the adult brain this molecule plays a role in migration of neuronal precursors.