Two immunocytochemical probes were used to specifically identify and localize heparan sulphate proteoglycans (HSPGs) in 17 cases of Alzheimer's disease (AD). A monoclonal (HK-102) and an affinity-purified polyclonal antibody, each recognizing specific domains on the protein core of a basement membrane-derived HSPG, localized HSPGs to the amyloid fibrils present in neuritic plaques (NPs) and congophilic angiopathy (CA) in the brains of Alzheimer's patients, with weak to no immunostaining in neurofibrillary tangles from the same tissues. HSPGs were also demonstrated in "primitive plaques," suggesting that their accumulation takes place during early stages of plaque development. Immunolocalization of HSPGs to subsets of astrocytes and neuronal cells, particularly those in close proximity to NPs and CA, suggested possible involvement of these two cell types in deposition of HS-PGs into the amyloidotic lesions. The current study not only identifies a new component (HSPGs) present in the amyloid deposits of NPs and CA but also suggests that astrocytes, neurons, or both may be involved in its deposition at these sites.