A solid-phase radioimmunoassay, specific for the monomeric form of human Thy-1, was developed and used for quantitation of the Thy-1 antigen in human brain tissue. Determination of Thy-1 in homogenates of 12 anatomically defined brain regions showed that Thy-1 is present throughout the human brain. However, significant variation was found in the expression of the glycoprotein in different regions. Thy-1 appears to be generally enriched within gray matter: caudate nucleus, cerebral cortex, and putamen were found to contain the highest Thy-1 concentration (approximately 2.5 micrograms Thy-1/mg protein). Interestingly, the cerebellar cortex contained only 25% of the Thy-1 concentration of cerebral gray matter. Cerebral subcortical white matter contained half the amount of Thy-1 compared to cerebral cortex. Determination of Thy-1 in subcellular fractions prepared from human brain biopsy tissue indicated that the highest relative concentration of Thy-1 is associated with synaptosomal membranes and myelin/axonal membrane fractions.