Interleukin-1β (IL-1) is a cytokine which exerts many biological effects during inflammation. In the present study, experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE) was induced in Lewis rats. During the various stages of EAE, the presence of IL-1 in the brain was investigated using immunocytochemistry at both the light and ultrastructural level. Ten days after immunization, IL-1 immunoreactivity was found in brains of animals which at this time showed mild clinical signs. Outside the blood-brain barrier, IL-1 was localized in the cytoplasm of meningeal macrophages and perivascular cells. Within the brain parenchyma, IL-1 immunoreactivity was distributed in perivascular lesions in the cytoplasm of infiltrated macrophages and activated microglia. On day 13, animals had developed a full blown EAE. At this stage the number of lesions with IL-1-positive cells had increased. In the remission phase (day 25), lesions with IL-1-positive cells could still be detected but were less pronounced as compared to day 13. Other presumptive IL-1-producing cell types like endothelial cells or astrocytes were, at non of the various stages, found to stain for IL-1.