To gain insights into the different forms of modified amyloid beta peptides (A beta) in the Alzheimer disease (AD) and Down syndrome (DS) brain, we used two-site ELISAs with antibodies specific for isomerized (i.e. A beta with L-isoaspartate at positions 1 and 7) and pyroglutamate-modified (i.e. A beta beginning with pyroglutamate at position 3) forms of A beta to quantitate the levels of these different A beta peptides in formic acid extracts of AD and DS frontal cortex. Despite variations in the proportions of distinct forms of A beta in AD and DS frontal cortex, the major species of A beta in these samples were A betaN3(pyroGlu)-42 as well as A beta x-42 (where x is a residue at position 2 or less in A beta), whereas isomerized A beta was a minor species. Further, the levels of isomerized and pyroglutamate-modified forms of A beta terminating at amino acid 42 were higher than those ending at amino acid 40. The abundance of the distinct forms of A beta reported here in formic acid extracts of AD and DS frontal cortex suggests that these A beta species could play important roles in the deposition of A beta in AD and DS brains.