Ubiquitin-immunoreactive dystrophic neurites in the CA2/3 region of the hippocampus are characteristic of diffuse Lewy body disease (DLBD). The origin of dystrophic CA2/3 neurites is unknown, but their extent correlates with the number of cortical Lewy bodies (LBs). To examine the molecular composition of these lesions, hippocampal sections were obtained at postmortem from cases of DLBD, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease. The tissue samples were fixed in a variety of fixatives and immunostained with antibodies to ubiquitin, ubiquitin C-terminal hydrolase (PGP9.5), neurofilament protein subunits, tau protein, paired helical filaments and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH). In addition to being ubiquitin positive, both cortical LBs and CA2/3 dystrophic neurites were positive with a neurofilament monoclonal antibody (RM032) and PGP9.5; however, fewer lesions were detected with these antibodies compared to ubiquitin immunocytochemistry. The dystrophic CA2/3 neurites were not stained with antibodies to tau proteins, paired helical filaments or TH. Absence of TH immunoreactivity suggests that CA2/3 neuritic processes are not derived from brain stem dopaminergic afferents to the hippocampus. Since CA2/3 neurites are immunologically similar to cortical LB, the pathogenesis of these lesions may be similar. Characterization of dystrophic CA2/3 neurites and cortical LBs may clarify how these lesions contribute to the emergence of dementia in DLBD.