Hyperphosphorylation of tau protein occurs during the formation of paired helical filament (PHF) in the brain with Alzheimer's disease. As previously reported, cyclin-dependent kinase (cdk) 5 can phosphorylate tau at the site of abnormally phosphorylated in PHF. To characterize the relationship between cdk5 and PHF-tau, we investigated the localization of cdk5 and its regulator, p67 (munc 18), in the hippocampus and temporal lobes from 12 Alzheimer type dementia (ATD) patients and 5 controls using immunohistochemical procedures. The specificity of antibodies was confirmed with Western blot analysis. Anti-cdk5 antibody diffusely stained the perikarya of some tau2-positive or neurofibrillary tangle (NFT)-bearing neurons in ATD brains, while cdk5-positive staining was scarcely found in control brains. Anti-p67 antibody also showed stronger immunoreactivity of pyramidal neurons in ATD brains than in control brains. Double immunostaining with anti-cdk5 and anti-p67 antibodies revealed co-localization of both molecules in some pyramidal neurons. These findings suggest that cdk5 is activated by p67 at the early stage of NFT formation and accelerates NFT formation. In cdk5-positive and p67-negative neurons, cdk5 may be activated by other regulator molecules such as p35. In addition, cdk5-positive reactive astrocytes were found close to cdk5-positive NFT-bearing neurons m ATD brains but not in control brains, suggesting a correlation between NFT and reactive astrocytes.