The distribution of glutathione (GSH) and glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) in the adult rat brain is cell-type specific, but their cellular distribution in the developing central nervous system is unknown. In the present study, GSH distribution in the mouse nervous system was visualized by mercury orange histochemistry and class-specific GSTs were localized by immunohistochemistry at ages E13 to PN30. Both neuronal and glial progenitor cells stain uniformly positive for GSH at E13. Spinal anterior horn neurons become GSH-negative by E17, at which time neurons and glia in other CNS regions are still GSH-positive. By PN5, most neurons have lost GSH staining and are surrounded by GSH-rich neuropil, ependyma, and vasculature. Olfactory mitral and granule cells, cerebellar granule cells, and dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons retain consistently high levels of GSH throughout development and into adulthood. Immunoreactivity to alpha-class GST antisera is not observed in the CNS until PN10, when very weak staining becomes apparent in the pia, ependyma, choroid plexus and neurons throughout the brain and spinal cord. Immunoreactivity to mu-GST is observed in neurons and astrocytes (but not oligodendrocytes), pia, ependyma, and choroid plexus throughout the brain by PN10. pi-GST immunoreactivity is observed in all cells of the embryonic nervous system. Postnatally, it is found in neurons and oligodendrocytes (but not astrocytes) in all regions of the brain and spinal cord as well as in pia, ependyma, and choroid plexus. The neurons and satellite cells of the DRG are immunoreactive to alpha-, mu-, and pi-GST antisera at all time points examined. The developmental changes in the cellular distribution of GSH and GSTs suggest that enzymatic conjugation and antioxidant activities may also be cell specific during brain development.