The nervous system is generated from cells lining the ventricular system. Our understanding of the fate potentials and lineage relationships of these cells is being re-evaluated, both because of recent demonstrations that radial glia can generate neurons and because of the identification of fate-determining genes. A variety of intrinsic and extrinsic molecules, including proteoglycans, regulate embryonic and postnatal brain development. Using probes modeled after species conserved domains of heparan sulfate proteoglycans, we cloned a novel gene called novocan, raised monoclonal antibodies against a segment of the predicted amino acid sequence of the expressed protein (NOVOcan) and used the antibodies to establish the cell and tissue localization of NOVOcan in postnatal rat brains by immunohistochemistry. NOVOcan was expressed in cells lining the ventricles, including a variety of radial glia during early postnatal development. Later, as radial glia disappeared and ependymal cells appeared, NOVOcan was detected in ependymal cells and in tanycytes, a specialized form of ependymal cell resembling radial glia. NOVOcan was absent in two known progeny of radial glia, mature astrocytes and neurons. Whereas NOVOcan was also absent in mature oligodendrocytes (OLGs), it was present in OLG precursors in developing white matter. These studies set the stage for determining the roles of NOVOcan in brain cell lineage patterns as well as in other aspects of development.