The histological localization of the ret proto-oncogene (proto-ret) product was examined in neural crest-derived and neuronal tissues together with their neoplastic counterparts by immunohistochemistry using a polyclonal antibody. Schwann cells, neurons, sympathetic ganglia, and cells of the adrenal medulla were positive for the proto-ret product, whereas melanocytes were negative. Positive results were obtained from neural crest-derived tumours such as schwannoma (69 per cent, 11/16), neurofibroma (59 per cent, 13/22), neuroblastoma (80 per cent, 4/5), phaeochromocytoma (100 per cent, 3/3) and medullary thyroid carcinoma (100 per cent, 3/3). The antibody reacted with all of the 22 astrocytomas examined. With negative proto-ret expression in melanocytic tumours, proto-ret expression was considered to correlate with the differentiation of some lineages of neural crest-derived cells.