Abstract Cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL) is a hereditary condition with onset in mid-adulthood and is associated with mutations in the Notch-3 gene. (Joutel, A., Corepechot, C., Ducros, A., Vahedi, K., Chabriat, H., Mouton, P., Alamowitch, S., Domenda, V., Cecilion, M., Marechal, J., Vayssiere, C., Cruaud, C., Cabanis, E.A., Ruchoux, M.M., Weissenvach, J., Bach, J.F., Bousser, M.G. and Tournier-Lasserve, E., Notch3 mutations in CADASIL, a hereditary adult-onset condition causing stroke and dementia. Nature, 383 (1996) 707–710) Ultrastructural examination of the pathology of the cerebral infarcts reveals deposits in the vascular smooth muscle cells of the small arteries of the brain, but there is no obvious indication how the Notch-3 mutations give rise the observed pathology, nor is there any information on the exact nature of the deposits. We have investigated cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from three CADASIL cases with known mutations in Notch-3 using two-dimensional gel electrophoresis. CSF from these patients was compared to that of six controls. We detected a single spot in the protein maps of patients which was absent from all the controls. In-gel tryptic digestion of this protein followed by mass spectrometric analysis of the tryptic fragments and a database search identified the spot as human complement factor B. These preliminary findings suggest that the alternative complement pathway may play a role in the pathogenesis of CADASIL.