Although sialic acids have a key role in many aspects of human biology, the expression of polysialic acid (PSA) in human tissues is thought to be relatively rare. We identified a derivative of PSA called neuraminic acid-containing PSA or NeuPSA that was highly expressed in primary human melanoma tumors and in several cancer cell lines. Moreover, anti-NeuPSA antibodies could induce apoptosis of cancer cells. However, little was known about NeuPSA expression in normal or diseased tissues. In this study we investigated the complete expression profile of NeuPSA in human tissues and a few primary tumors using the anti-NeuPSA monoclonal antibody, SEAM 3. Almost every human tissue tested spanning a representative sample of all organ types was positive for SEAM 3 binding. Specificity of SEAM 3 binding was established by inhibition with NeuPSA but not closely related meningococcal C polysaccharide and loss of SEAM 3 binding when specimens were treated with periodate at high pH, which specifically destroys NeuPSA. Only subsets of cells in each specimen stained positive, and the relative staining between tissues was variable. The distribution and amount of NeuPSA antigen in tissues was correlated with known levels of polysialyltransferase PST or STX expression. The majority of anti-NeuPSA binding occurred intracellularly in the cytoplasm of cells. Tumors generally exhibited considerably increased staining compared with corresponding normal tissues. Identifying the diverse tissue distribution and intracellular location of NeuPSA provides a foundation for investigating the functional role of NeuPSA in human health and disease.