M-cadherin belongs to the Ca(2+)-dependent cadherin family of cell adhesion molecules and was first isolated from a mouse muscle cell line cDNA library. It is specifically expressed in muscle tissue during development and is supposed to play an important role in secondary myogenesis. In the present study the expression of M-cadherin mRNA and protein and its localization were investigated in adult mouse skeletal muscle and peripheral nerve. The mRNA was abundant in embryonic legs from embryonic day (E)14 to E18. It remained expressed in new-born and adult muscles. In the adult muscle M-cadherin immunoreactivity was only detected at the neuromuscular junction, associated with perijunctional mononucleated cells and on intramuscular nerves. Peripheral nerves were also M-cadherin-positive. The molecule was found at the surface of myelinated nerve fibres where it was concentrated at the node of Ranvier. When a nerve was crushed and allowed to regenerate, M-cadherin was over-expressed at the site of nerve injury and in the distal stump. M-cadherin was also upregulated on the sarcolemma of denervated muscle fibres. Taken together, these observations point toward a much wider tissue distribution of M-cadherin than previously thought. M-cadherin might be involved not only in specific steps of myogenesis but also in some aspects of synaptogenesis, axon/Schwann cell interactions and node of Ranvier structural maintenance.