N-cadherin, a 130kD transmembrane adhesive glycoprotein, is a mediator of specific cellular interactions during development. Analysis of N-cadherin at the protein level, to date, has been largely dependent upon monoclonal antibody NCD-2 which recognizes only avian N-cadherin. We produced a monospecific polyclonal antiserum, C-NCAD(838–856), to a synthetic peptide corresponding to a portion of the highly conserved c-terminal cytoplasmic domain of chick N-cadherin. Using polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and immunoblotting to map tissue distribution we show that the antiserum detects chick N-cadherin with a similar tissue distribution as NCD-2. Unlike NCD-2, however, anti-C-NCAD(838–856) recognizes N-cadherin analogues in a wide variety of species, including mouse, human, fish and drosophila. The results of comparative immunoblot studies demonstrate similar tissue-specific patterns and apparent molecular weight variation in the chick, mouse and human. This indicates that N-cadherin structure and expression, and most likely function as well, have been highly conserved in evolution. The antiserum recognizes an epitope unique to N-cadherin which is conserved among N-cadherins from a variety of species but is absent from other members of the cadherin gene family, as no immunoreactivity was detected with tissues bearing these other cadherins. The antiserum is thus a useful tool for the phylogenetic and biochemical investigation of N-cadherin from a variety of tissue sources.