Mannan-Binding lectin (MBL) is a serum lectin which can activate the classical complement pathway. Complement proteins of the classical pathway have been found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) in association with AD brain pathology. To investigate the role for MBL in AD we have looked for its presence in the brain by immunohistochemistry and determined the levels of MBL in paired samples of cerebrospinal fluid and serum from AD patients and controls. MBL was detected in association with blood vessels in the brain tissue of both AD patients and control subjects. There was no apparent difference in the distribution of MBL in the brain tissue between the two groups. The mean concentration of MBL in the CSF was 44% lower in AD patients than in controls (AD 154 +/- 35 pg/ml, n = 19; non-AD 276 +/- 50 pg/ml, n = 15, p < 0.05). The levels of MBL in serum were not significantly different in the two groups. Thus, this study shows that MBL is associated with blood vessels in the brains of both AD and control subjects. Moreover, CSF levels of MBL appear to be lower in AD patients than in control subjects which may indicate a higher degree of MBL consumption connected with complement activation in the AD patients.