S-100 protein, a Ca(2+)-binding protein of the EF-hand type, is most abundant in the brain, and is involved in cell differentiation and the molecular mechanisms underlying cytoskeletal organization. We have investigated the immunocytochemical localization of S-100 protein in rat brain glial cultures prepared from the cerebral hemispheres of newborn rats. In mixed glial cultures, containing astrocytes type I and II and oligodendrocytes at various stages of differentiation, S-100 immunoreactivity was detected in all three cell types. Double immunofluorescence analysis revealed that in astrocytes, S-100 immunoreactivity was mainly colocalized with glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), while in oligodendrocytes a close association with microtubular structures was observed. For immunoblot analysis, highly enriched oligodendrocytes and astrocytes were separately cultured for another week, and their extracts were analyzed by immunoblotting. The immunoblots of the cell extracts of both cell types showed a single S-100-immunoreactive polypeptide with an apparent molecular weight of approximately 12,000 daltons. Thus, the data presented here demonstrate that S-100 protein is not confined to astrocytes but occurs also in oligodendrocytes of rat brain. The close association with the oligodendroglial cytoskeleton suggests that this protein could also play a regulatory role in the organization of microtubules in oligodendrocytes and hence may be involved in the formation and maintenance of the myelin-containing membrane sheets.