A double-stranded DNA end-binding factor with high levels of expression in brain and testis of adult mice was identified as the Ku protein, earlier described as an autoantigen in connective tissue diseases and found to be essential for recombination of the immunoglobulin genes and DNA repair. High Ku levels were found in the cerebellum and pituitary gland, lower levels in the hippocampus, hypothalamus and white matter structures. Ku levels were much higher in embryonic rat brain than in the adult brain, suggesting a role of the Ku protein in brain development. In embryonic rat brain, Ku was associated with cell nuclei, but was predominantly located in the cytosol in the adult rat cerebellum and hippocampus. The abundant expression of Ku in the brain suggests the involvement of Ku autoantibodies in the pathogenesis of neuropsychiatric complications in connective tissue diseases.