Chondroitin sulphate proteoglycans (CSPGs) are up-regulated in the CNS after injury and inhibit axon regeneration mainly through their glycosaminoglycan (CS-GAG) chains. We have analysed the mRNA levels of the CS-GAG synthesizing enzymes and measured the CS-GAG disaccharide composition by chromatography and immunocytochemistry. Chondroitin 6-sulfotransferase 1 (C6ST1) is up-regulated in most glial types around cortical injuries, and its sulphated product CS-C is also selectively up-regulated. Treatment with TGFα and TGFβ, which are released after brain injury, promotes the expression of C6ST1 and the synthesis of 6-sulphated CS-GAGs in primary astrocytes. Oligodendrocytes, oligodendrocyte precursors and meningeal cells are all inhibitory to axon regeneration, and all express high levels of CS-GAG, including high levels of 6-sulphated GAG. In axon growth-inhibitory Neu7 astrocytes C6ST1 and 6-sulphated GAGs are expressed at high levels, whereas in permissive A7 astrocytes they are not detectable. These results suggest that the up-regulation of CSPG after CNS injury is associated with a specific sulphation pattern on CS-GAGs, mediating the inhibitory properties of proteoglycans on axonal regeneration.