CD81 (TAPA), a member of the tetraspanin family of proteins, is upregulated by astrocytes and microglia after traumatic injury to the rat central nervous system (CNS). To further understand the role of CD81 in the microglial response to injury, we analysed the functional effects of a CD81 antibody, AMP1, on cultured rat microglia. We found that AMP1 suppressed microglial proliferation in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, AMP1 stimulated myelin phagocytosis, probably by opsonizing the myelin. The phagocytosis of latex beads, as well as the production of nitric oxide, were not significantly influenced by AMP1. These data indicate that CD81 is involved in an important subset of microglial effector functions after CNS injury.