Expression of the cell adhesion molecule TAG-1 is down-regulated in adult brain, with the exception of certain areas exhibiting structural plasticity. Here, we present evidence that TAG-1 expression persists also in adult rat spinal cord and dorsal root ganglia (DRG), and can be up-regulated after injury. On Western blots of adult tissue, TAG-1 is detected as a 135-kDa band, with an additional specific 90-kDa band, not present in developing tissue. TAG-1 expression is found both in DRG neurons and in Schwann cells, particularly those associated with the peripherally projecting DRG processes. Quantitative in situ hybridization revealed that TAG-1 expression is significantly higher in small neurons that give rise to unmyelinated fibers, than in large DRG neurons. The regulation of TAG-1 was then examined in two different lesion paradigms. After a sciatic nerve lesion, TAG-1 expression is not up-regulated in DRG neurons, but decreases with time. At the lesion site, reactive Schwann cells up-regulate TAG-1, as demonstrated by both immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization. In a second paradigm, we injected kainic acid into the spinal cord that kills neurons but spares glia and axons. TAG-1 is up-regulated in the spinal neuron-depleted area as well as in the corresponding dorsal and ventral roots, associated with both target-deprived afferent fibers and with the non-neuronal cells that invade the lesion site. These results demonstrate a local up-regulation of TAG-1 in the adult that is induced in response to injury, suggesting its involvement in axonal re-modelling, neuron–glia interactions, and glial cell migration.