Glutamate is widely distributed in the central nervous system (CNS) and is present in greater amounts than any other putative neurotransmitter. To study its distribution in the CNS, a monoclonal antibody was raised against gamma-L-glutamyl-L-glutamic acid (gamma-Glu-Glu) conjugated to keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) using glutaraldehyde-borohydride. By use of this antibody, indirect immunoperoxidase staining was observed in CNS tissue fixed with carbodiimide to form gamma-Glu-Glu from glutamate and post-fixed with glutaraldehyde or paraformaldehyde. In contrast, immunoreactivity was quite low in tissues fixed only with glutaraldehyde. Absorption controls indicated that the staining of carbodiimide-fixed tissue could be inhibited by micromolar concentrations of gamma-Glu-Glu but not by other small molecules. Using ELISA, the antibody reacted strongly with the gamma-Glu-Glu-KLH conjugate used to immunize the mouse, but not with other small molecules conjugated to KLH. The reactivity of the antibody with the gamma-Glu-Glu/KLH conjugate on ELISA was inhibited by free gamma-Glu-Glu in micromolar concentrations, but not by similar dipeptides or amino acids. Dense immunocytochemical staining was observed in cortical pyramidal cells, cerebellar granule cells, and the cochlear nuclei. Staining with this monoclonal antibody correlated well with other methods of localizing glutamate in the CNS.