Neurons lesioned in the peripheral nervous system (PNS) generally regenerate and survive, while neurons lesioned in the central nervous system (CNS) do not regenerate and often die. Investigators have traditionally compared the neuronal responses to PNS and CNS lesions in two separate populations of neurons. In this study, we compared the effects of PNS and CNS lesions on the expression of cytoskeletal proteins in a single neuronal population, the trochlear motoneurons of the cat. The trochlear nerve was lesioned either unilaterally in the PNS or bilaterally in the CNS (within the anterior medullary velum), and animals were allowed to survive 1, 2, or 4 weeks. Brain sections were reacted immunocytochemically using antibodies against microtubule -associated protein-2 (MAP-2) and a phosphorylated isoform of MAP1B, termed MAP1B-P. MAP-2 immunoreactivity (IR) was significantly decreased in the CNS-lesioned trochlear nucleus, compared to the lesioned and the unlesioned trochlear nucleus of PNS-lesioned animals. MAP1B-P IR was significantly increased in PNS- and CNS- lesioned trochlear axons, compared to axons in the unlesioned trochlear nerve of PNS-lesioned animals, and appeared in a small percentage of PNS- and CNS-lesioned cell bodies. These results support the growing body of evidence that MPA-2 can serve as a marker for cells that will eventually die following neuronal insult. The increased immunostaining of MAP1B-P in lesioned axons and its appearance in lesioned cell bodies are characteristic of the immature CNS and may reflect an initial recapitulation of early development, when the levels of this protein are high.