The pattern of CD-34 antigen (human progenitor cell antigen) immunoreactivity was studied within normal nerve, and a variety of nerve sheath and neuroectodermal tumors. Besides normal nerves, 111 soft tissue tumors were studied, including 17 neurofibromas, 10 neurilemomas, 12 malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors, 1 melanocytic schwannoma, 21 fibroblastic lesions, 31 fibrohistiocytic lesions, seven neuroectodermal lesions, and 10 miscellaneous tumors. CD-34positive dendritic cells were consistently identified within the endoneurium of normal nerve, all neurofibromas, dermatofibrosarcomas, and Antoni B (but not Antoni A) areas of neurilemomas. CD-34 was not expressed in the majority (eight of 10 cases) of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors. CD-34 was also lacking in all fibroblastic lesions (nodular fasciitis, fibromatosis, keloid, fibrosarcoma) and in neuroectodermal tumors that are not generally considered to show true nerve sheath differentiation (neurotropic melanoma, clear cell sarcoma, neuroepithelioma). We conclude that CD-34 (or a closely related epitope) defines a normally occurring nerve sheath cell that appears to be cytologically and immunophenotypically distinct from a fibroblast and conventional Schwann cell. The antigen can also be localized to benign nerve sheath tumors, but tends to be lost in malignant ones. The consistent presence of CD-34 within all 13 cases of dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans can be used as evidence in support of the view that these lesions are variants of nerve sheath tumors, and distinct from benign fibrous histiocytomas which consistently lack the antigen. Finally, expression of CD-34 by one of three giant cell fibroblastomas reinforces the close relationship between this tumor and dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans.