Cathepsin C (CC) (EC 126.96.36.199, dipeptidyl peptidase I) is a lysosomal cysteine protease that is required for the activation of several granule-associated serine proteases in vivo. CC has been shown to be constitutively expressed in various tissues, but the enzyme is hardly detectable in central nervous system (CNS) tissues. In the present study, we investigated the regional and cellular distribution of CC in normal, aging and pathological mouse brains. Immunoblotting failed to detect CC protein in whole brain tissues of normal mice, as previously described. However, low proteolytic activity of CC was detected in a brain region-dependent manner, and granular immunohistochemical signals were found in neuronal perikarya of particular brain regions, including the accessory olfactory bulb, the septum, CA2 of the hippocampus, a part of the cerebral cortex, the medial geniculate, and the inferior colliculus. In aged mice, the number of CC-positive neurons increased to some extent. The protein level of CC and its proteolytic activity showed significant increases in particular brain regions of mouse models with pathological conditions – the thalamus in cathepsin D-deficient mice, the hippocampus of ipsilateral brain hemispheres after hypoxic–ischemic brain injury, and peri-damaged portions of brains after penetrating injury. In such pathological conditions, the majority of the cells that were strongly immunopositive for CC were activated microglia. These lines of evidence suggest that CC is involved in normal neuronal function in certain brain regions, and also participates in inflammatory processes accompanying pathogenesis in the CNS.