The class III beta-tubulin isotype is widely used as a neuronal marker in normal and neoplastic tissues. This isotype was, however, also immunodetected in certain tumours of non-neuronal origin such as squamous cell carcinoma. Using a newly described monoclonal antibody we compared the distribution of class III beta-tubulin in normal and neoplastic tissues. The TU-20 mouse monoclonal antibody was prepared against a conserved synthetic peptide from the C-terminus of the human class III beta-tubulin isotype, and its specificity was confirmed by immunoblotting, by competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and by immunofluorescence microscopy on cultured cells. In different cell lines of various origins the antibody reacted only with neuroblastoma Neuro-2a cells and with embryonal carcinoma P19 cells stimulated to neuronal differentiation by retinoic acid. Immunohistochemistry on formaldehyde-fixed paraffin-embedded normal human tissues revealed the presence of the class III beta-tubulin isotype in cell bodies and processes of neuronal cells in the peripheral and central nervous systems. In other tissues, this beta-tubulin isotype was not immunodetected. Class III beta-tubulin was found in all cases of ganglioneuroblastoma, ganglioneuroma, medulloblastoma, neuroblastoma, sympathoblastoma and in one case of teratoma. In contrast, no reactivity was detected in tumours of non-neuronal origin, including 32 cases of squamous cell carcinoma. The results indicate a specific TU-20 epitope expression exclusively in neuronal tissues. The antibody could thus be a useful tool for the probing of class III beta-tubulin functions in neurons as well as for immunohistochemical characterisation of tumours of neuronal origin.