In order to examine questions concerning immunologic privilege of the central nervous system, we placed neocortical transplants into cerebral ventricles of mice. We compared the fates of transplants between fully H-2 compatible (isografts) and H-2 incompatible (allografts) animals. Histologic evaluation comparing animals from iso- and allograft groups revealed significant differences in the number of inflammatory cells and in the degree of necrosis within the grafts. Response to allografted tissue within the brain mimics that seen in several immune-mediated diseases of the nervous system in that neurons appear to be selectively spared. Only upon subsequent stimulation of the host's immune system with an orthotopic skin graft bearing the major histocompatibility complex antigens of the neural graft are neurons destroyed. Immunohistochemical evaluation revealed that the inflammatory cell infiltrates in and around the allografts were composed of Lyt-2+, L3T4+, and Mac-1+ cells. In addition, Ia+ endothelial cells as well as Ia+ parenchymal CNS cells were found in both donor and host tissue of allografted animals. Hence, H-2 incompatible neural tissue transplanted to the CNS is recognized and rejected by the immune system of the recipient animal. The cellular infiltrates seen within the first weeks to months following transplantation of allogeneic CNS tissue resemble those seen in other allografts undergoing rejection. We conclude that the CNS is not unconditionally privileged as either a transplant site or as a source of transplanted tissue.