Although long suspected from histochemical evidence for carbonic anhydrase (CA) activity on neurons and observations that CA inhibitors enhance the extracellular alkaline shifts associated with synaptic transmission, an extracellular CA in brain had not been identified. A candidate for this CA was suggested by the recent discovery of membrane CA (CA XIV) whose mRNA is expressed in mouse and human brain and in several other tissues. For immunolocalization of CA XIV in mouse and human brain, we developed two antibodies, one against a secretory form of enzymatically active recombinant mouse CA XIV, and one against a synthetic peptide corresponding to the 24 C-terminal amino acids in the human enzyme. Immunostaining for CA XIV was found on neuronal membranes and axons in both mouse and human brain. The highest expression was seen on large neuronal bodies and axons in the anterolateral part of pons and medulla oblongata. Other CA XIV-positive sites included the hippocampus, corpus callosum, cerebellar white matter and peduncles, pyramidal tract, and choroid plexus. Mouse brain also showed a positive reaction in the molecular layer of the cerebral cortex and granular cellular layer of the cerebellum. These observations make CA XIV a likely candidate for the extracellular CA postulated to have an important role in modulating excitatory synaptic transmission in brain.