Megjegyzés: Abstract The ecto-nucleoside triphosphate diphosphohydrolase 3 (NTPDase3), an enzyme involved in degradation of extracellular adenosine triphosphate (ATP), is expressed on nerve fibers in different brain regions, including cortex. Here we studied the expression and role of this enzyme after unilateral cortical stab injury in rats. In cortical sections of control rats, NTPDase3 immunoreactivity was associated with two types of fibers: thin processes, occasionally with small mushroom-like protrusions and slightly thicker fibers with more pronounced and more frequent varicosities, whereas immunopositive neuronal perycaria were never observed. Although NTPDase3–positive thin processes and thicker fibers, by general appearance, size and shape, could be dendrites and axons, respectively, they were never immunopositive for microtubule associated protein-2 or neurofilament H subunit. Cortical stab injury induced rapid (within 4 hours) focal varicose swelling that evolved over time to prominent beading of NTPDase3–positive fibers. The NTPDase3–positive fibers in all experimental groups also abundantly express NTPDase1, ecto-5′-nucleotidase and P2X2 receptor channels. Because the brain injury causes a massive ATP release, it is reasonable to conclude that purinoreceptors and ectonucleotidases play an important role in the process of neuritic beading.