Rectoanal mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (RAMALT) is a part of the lymphoid system that can be sampled easily in live animals, especially ruminants. RAMALT biopsy is useful for the diagnosis of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, including scrapie in sheep and goats and chronic wasting disease (CWD) in cervids. Diagnosis is reliant on detection of abnormal prion protein (PrPd), which is associated with lymphoid follicles. For enzyme linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) detecting PrPd it is necessary to ensure that lymphoid follicles are present in biopsy samples to avoid false-negative results. Monoclonal antibodies known to recognize specific immune cell subsets present in lymphoid tissues of sheep were tested for cross-reactivity with cervine RAMALT and mesenteric lymph nodes (MLNs) preserved in zinc salts fixative. The distribution of cells expressing CD3, CD4, CD79, CD21 and class II molecules of the major histocompatibility complex was determined in these tissues. Cells of each immunophenotype had similar distributions in RAMALT and MLNs and these distributions were similar to those reported previously for sheep and cattle. The identification and validation of cervine lymphoid follicle cell markers (CD79 and CD21) may allow reduction in false-negative results during diagnosis of CWD by ELISA. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.