We previously generated a monoclonal antibody (mAb), ROCA1, which binds preferentially to rostral versus caudal sympathetic ganglia and intercostal nerves. Two other mAbs, ROCA2 and B2C11, bind to the same structures but not in rostrocaudal gradients. All three mAbs recognize a 26 kDa cell surface protein. Amino acid sequence data obtained from the affinity purified 26 kDa protein showed some homology with human CD9, a tetraspan protein implicated in intercellular signaling in hematopoietic cells. Using the PCR, we obtained cDNA clones representing the entire rat CD9 coding sequence from sciatic nerve and sympathetic ganglia. ROCA1, ROCA2, and B2C11 each immunoprecipitate a 26 kDa protein from CHO cells stably transfected with one of the clones, demonstrating that the ROCA cell surface antigen is indeed rat CD9. We find that CD9 mRNA is widely expressed, with particularly high levels present in a number of neural tissues. In situ hybridization demonstrates that peripheral neurons and Schwann cells, as well as adrenal chromaffin cells express CD9 mRNA. Consistent with immunoblot analyses showing that, unlike the ROCA1 epitope, the 26 kDa protein is not expressed in a rostrocaudal gradient, we find similar levels of rat CD9 mRNA in rostral and caudal intercostal nerves. In developing postnatal rat sciatic nerve, CD9 mRNA levels are coordinately regulated with the expression of myelin genes. These results provide another example of a cell surface protein expressed by both hematopoietic and neural cells, and suggest a role for CD9 in intercellular signaling in the nervous system.