Two isoforms of brain ankyrin, 440- and 220- kD ankyrinB, are generated from the same gene by alternative splicing of pre-mRNA. The larger isoform shares the same NH2-terminal and COOH-terminal domains to the smaller isoform and contains, in addition, a unique inserted domain of about 220-kD in size (Kunimoto, M., E. Otto, and V. Bennett. 1991. J. Cell Biol. 115:1319-1331). Both Isoforms were expressed in primary cerebellar cells in a manner similar to that in vivo; the larger isoform appeared first when axogenesis is actively conducted and the smaller isoform came up later. 440-kD ankyrinB was localized in the axons of cerebellar neurons both in vivo and in vitro using an antibody raised against the insert region, while 220-kD isoform was rather localized in the cell bodies and dendrites of neurons by a specific antibody prepared using a synthetic peptide corresponding to the splice site as antigen. Astroglia cells also expressed 220-kD ankyrinB but not the 440-kD isoform. These results indicate that 440-kD ankyrinB is a neuron-specific isoform targeted to the axons and its unique inserted domain is essential for the targeting.