Microtubules and presumptive microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs) were isolated from the brain tissues of four Antarctic fishes (Notothenia gibberifrons, N. coriiceps neglecta, Chaenocephalus aceratus, and a Chionodraco sp.) by means of a taxol-dependent, microtubule-affinity procedure (cf. Vallee: Journal of Cell Biology 92:435-442, 1982). MAPs from these fishes were similar to each other in electrophoretic pattern. Prominent in each preparation were proteins in the molecular weight ranges 410,000-430,000, 220,000-280,000, 140,000-155,000, 85,000-95,000, 40,000-45,000, and 32,000-34,000. The surfaces of MAP-rich microtubules were decorated by numerous filamentous projections. Exposure to elevated ionic strength released the MAPs from the microtubules and also removed the filamentous projections. Addition of fish MAPs to subcritical concentrations of fish tubulins at 0-5 degrees C induced the assembly of microtubules. Both the rate and the extent of this assembly increased with increasing concentrations of the MAPs. Sedimentation revealed that approximately six proteins, with apparent molecular weights between 60,000 and 300,000, became incorporated into the microtubule polymer. Bovine MAPs promoted microtubule formation by fish tubulin at 2-5 degrees C, and proteins corresponding to MAPs 1 and 2 co-sedimented with the polymer. MAPs from C. aceratus also enhanced the polymerization of bovine tubulin at 33 degrees C, but the microtubules depolymerized at 0 degrees C. We conclude that MAPs are part of the microtubules of Antarctic fishes, that these proteins promote microtubule assembly in much the same way as mammalian MAPs, and that they do not possess special capacities to promote microtubule assembly at low temperatures or to prevent cold-induced microtubule depolymerization.