The peroxidase anti-peroxidase technique was used for localization of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and vimentin (VM) in 19 ependymal tumors in order to determine if a unique pattern of intermediate filament (IF) expression could be demonstrated. Cytokeratin (CK) immunoreactivity was examined in a subgroup of 7 tumors with papillary pattern. Nineteen non-ependymal neuroectodermal tumors were used as controls. Ependymomas, subependymomas and astrocytomas were positive for both IF. Oligodendrogliomas, oligodendroglial portions of mixed gliomas and the majority of medulloblastomas were negative for GFAP and VM. Areas of poor differentiation in all tumors demonstrated little expression of any IF. A composite ependymoma/choroid plexus papilloma showed the presence of GFAP, VM and CK in the papillomatous portion only. Four papillary ependymomas were negative for CK. This study emphasizes the parallel distribution of GFAP and VM in well differentiated ependymomas and other glial tumors and casts doubt upon the concept of VM as a marker for de-differentiation in neuroectodermal neoplasia.