- Grafts of Embryonic Day 14-15 basal forebrain tissue (medial septal/diagonal band nuclei) were transplanted into an aspirative fimbria-fornix cavity or the hippocampus of young adult rats. After extended periods of survival (1 and 2 years) the grafts were examined with immunocytochemical probes to identify specific types of neurons and assess the (spatial) distribution of the phosphorylated heavy neurofilament protein. Subpopulations of the long-term transplanted neurons expressed immunoreactivity to choline acetyl-transferase (CAT) and the low-affinity nerve growth factor receptor (192-IgG). Axons from the grafted neurons, visualized with the monoclonal antibody RT97 to the Mr 200,000 phosphorylated neurofilament unit, were observed to extend over the surfaces of the brain and connect with the host hippocampus. In subgroups of neurons without apparent axonal connections to the hippocampus, a change from axonal to cell body RT97 immunoreactivity was evident. A population of these neurons with abnormal neurofilament immunostaining in the soma was simultaneously identified as cholinergic with the CAT antibody. These studies indicate that abnormal changes can develop in the cytoskeleton of neurons in long-term intracerebral septal transplants. Although the reasons for this type of neurofilament modification in the grafted neurons are unknown, inappropriate terminal connections may be an important factor in the expression of this cytoskeletal change.