Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker disease (GSS) is a rare, dominantly inherited neurodegenerative disease that can sometimes be transmitted to experimental animals through intracerebral inoculation of brain homogenates from patients. Substitution of leucine for proline at codon 102 of the prion protein gene has been found in several families with the disease; this mutation is genetically linked to GSS. Mice containing murine prion protein transgenes with this mutation spontaneously develop neurologic symptoms of ataxia, lethargy, and rigidity accompanied by spongiform degeneration throughout the brain. Thus, many of the clinical and pathological features of the GSS have been reproduced in this transgenic mouse paradigm; to our knowledge, this study illustrates, for the first time, that a neurodegenerative process similar to a human disease can be genetically modeled in animals. Whether or not this transgenic mouse model of GSS may facilitate the understanding of common neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer disease remains to be established.