Glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) is the principal marker for brain astrocytes. The present study aims to examine the variability in GFAP immunohistochemistry in formalin-fixed human brain. Four commercially-available antisera were tested using standardised protocols in the cerebral cortex of three cases with prominent glial reactions and one control. GFAP immunoreactivity was largely confined to the pial surface and white matter in control cortex, with the number of astrocytic cell bodies and processes as well as intensity of staining markedly increased in damaged cortices. A dramatic difference in the pattern of GFAP staining using different antisera was observed and may account for discrepancies between past studies. This variance has important practical implications for the interpretation of results using GFAP immunohistochemistry in human tissue.