We used various antibodies to the beta amyloid precursor protein (APP) of Alzheimer's disease to study changes in the cellular distribution of APP in experimental ischemic brain injury. In contrast to sham operated controls, rats with repeated reversible occlusions of one middle cerebral artery showed striking APP reactivity in astrocytic processes in perifocal regions and white matter tracts. Dystrophic axons and neurons with accumulated APP were also evident in the ipsilateral neocortex and hippocampus. Such changes were also apparent in rats subjected to partial forebrain ischemia by bilateral occlusion of the carotid arteries. Our studies suggest that focal ischemic insults or chronic hypoperfusion leads to increased accumulation of APP in surviving brain cells that may pertain to enhanced beta amyloid deposition in Alzheimer's disease.