The subventricular zone (SVZ) of the lateral ventricle remains mitotically active in the adult mammalian central nervous system (CNS). Recent studies have suggested that this region may contain neuronal precursors (neural stem cells) in adult rodents. A variety of neuronal and glial markers as well as three extracellular matrix (ECM) markers were examined with the hope of understanding factors that may affect the growth and migration of neurons from this region throughout development and in the adult. This study has characterized the subventricular zone of late embryonic, postnatal, and adult mice using several neuronal markers [TuJ1, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate diaphorase (NADPH-d), neuron-specific enolase (NSE)], glial markers [RC-2, vimentin, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), galactocerebroside (Gal-C)], ECM markers [tenascin-C (TN-C), chondroitin sulfate, a chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan termed dermatan sulfate-dependent proteoglycan-1 (DSD-1-PG)], stem-cell marker (nestin), and proliferation-specific marker [bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU)]. TuJ1+ and nestin+ cells (neurons and stem cells, respectively) persist in the region into adulthood, although the numbers of these cells become more sparse as the animal develops, and they appear to be immature compared to the cells in surrounding forebrain structures (e.g., not expressing NSE and having few, if any, processes). Likewise, NADPH-d+ cells are found in and around the SVZ during early postnatal development but become more sparse in the proliferative zone through maturity, and, by adulthood, only a few labeled cells can be found at the border between the SVZ and surrounding forebrain structures (e.g., the striatum), and even smaller numbers of positive cells can be found within the adult SVZ proper. BrdU labeling also seems to decrease significantly after the first postnatal week, but it still persists in the SVZ of adult animals. The disappearance of RC-2+ (radial) glia during postnatal development and the persistence of glial-derived ECM molecules such as tenascin and chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (as well as other "boundary" molecules) in the adult SVZ may be associated with a persistence of immaturity, cell death, and a lack of cell emigration from the SVZ in the adult.