Acidic calponin, an F-actin-binding protein, is particularly enriched in brain, where calponin protein and mRNA are mainly expressed by neurons. The presence of calponin immunoreactivity in cultured astroglial cells has been reported, but the presence of acidic calponin in astrocytes in vivo appears equivocal. For the present study, we raised a specific polyclonal antibody against the 16-residue synthetic peptide covering the sequence E311-Q326 (EYPDEYPREYQYGDDQ) situated at the carboxy-terminal end of rat acidic calponin, and we investigated the cellular and subcellular localization of the protein in the developing central nervous system. Our results show that acidic calponin is particularly enriched in: (i) growth cones and submembranous fields of maturing cerebellar and cortical cells, where it codistributes with microfilaments and (ii) glial cells in vivo, including radial glia, glia limitans, Bergmann glia and mature astrocytes, and ex vivo, where acidic calponin strongly colocalizes with intermediate glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and vimentin filaments. Finally, up to four acidic calponin subtypes with different isoelectric point (pI) values were identified by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis of cerebellar and hippocampal extracts. The more acidic isoforms were developmentally regulated. As only one single mRNA for acidic calponin has been identified, these isoforms must reflect postsynthesis changes probably related to the particular functions of acidic calponin in maturing cells. Although brain acidic calponin's exact role remains uncertain, the present data suggest that it is involved in neuronal and glial plasticity.