To investigate the etiology of Alzheimer`s disease, we administered aluminum to healthy rats and examined the aluminum uptake in the brain and isolated brain cell nuclei by particle-induced X-ray emission (PIXE) analysis. Ten days after the last injection, Al was detected in the rat brain and in isolated brain cell nuclei by PIXE analysis. Al was also demonstrated in the brain after 15 months of oral aluminum administration. Moreover, Al was detected in the brain and isolated brain cell nuclei from the patients with Alzheimer`s disease. Silver impregnation studies revealed that spines attached to the dendritic processes of cortical nerve cells decreased remarkably after aluminum administration. Electron microscopy revealed characteristic inclusion bodies in the hippocampal nerve cells 75 days after the injection. These morphological changes in the rat brain after the aluminum administration were similar to those reportedly observed in the brain of Alzheimer`s disease patients. Our results indicate that Alzheimer`s disease is caused by irreversible accumulation of aluminum in the brain, as well as in the nuclei of brain cells. (author).