The childhood-onset cerebral form of adrenoleukodystrophy has a devastating neurologic prognosis. Unfortunately, there is no early method of distinguishing it from the more benign forms of adrenoleukodystrophy, such as adrenomyeloneuropathy. To evaluate the manner in which this disease entity may be reflected in the cerebrospinal fluid, we studied a consecutive series of 19 patients, all with biochemically proved adrenoleu-kodystrophy. Total protein, immunoglobulin production, cytokine levels, and cerebrospinal fluid pressure were measured. In this single sample of cerebrospinal fluid, a significant correlation existed between clinical stage of the illness and cerebrospinal fluid myelin basic protein. No correlation existed with total protein, cytokines, or measures of immunoglobulin production.