Antibodies against APP, a precursor of Abeta deposited in Alzheimer's disease brain, have been shown to cause neuronal death. Therefore, it is important to determine whether Abeta mediates antibody-induced neurotoxicity. When primary neurons were treated with anti-APP antibodies, Abeta40 and Abeta42 in the cultured media were undetectable by an assay capable of detecting 100 nM Abeta peptides. However, exogenously treated Abeta1-42 or Abeta1-43 required >3 microM to exert neurotoxicity, and 25 microM Abeta1-40 was not neurotoxic. Glutathione-ethyl-ester inhibited neuronal death by anti-APP antibody, but not death by Abeta1-42, whereas serum attenuated toxicity by Abeta1-42, but not by anti-APP antibody. Using immortalized neuronal cells, we specified the domain responsible for toxicity to be cytoplasmic His(657)-Lys(676), but not the Abeta1-42 region, of APP. This indicates that neuronal cell death by anti-APP antibody is not mediated by secreted Abeta.