4-1BB is an inducible costimulatory molecule that can exert regulatory effects on T cells. Polyclonal antibodies against oligopeptides representing an evolutionarily-conserved region of murine 4-1BB, were prepared and used to stain tissues in normal and inflammatory conditions. The 4-1BB mRNA was detected in the PMA-treated spleen and heart, and constitutively in the brain, kidneys and lungs. The 4-1BB-like protein (BBLP) was expressed on mononuclear cells infiltrating islet cells in the pancreata of NOD mice. Expression was prominent in the early phase of insulitis and the level of expression diminished or disappeared in the later phase. BBLP was identified in the gray matter of brain where neuronal cell bodies, dendrites, and fiber terminals reside but was almost entirely absent in the white matter where axonal fibers dwell. A peculiar rosette pattern was observed in a granular layer of cerebellum and scattered in the stria terminalis. The staining pattern strongly resembled the receptor/nerve terminals in the brain and in the peripheral nervous system. Taken together, BBLP may be associated with the early phase of inflammation and with brain function.