Amniocentesis was performed at 17 weeks' gestation on a 39-year-old woman at risk of being a carrier for X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD). Her first son had been affected with childhood cerebral X-ALD and had died at the age of nine years. DNA analysis had not been performed nor was any material available. The amniotic fluid cells (AFC) karyotype was found to be male and initial determination of very long chain fatty acids (VLCFA) in cultured amniocytes revealed borderline values. As an alternative strategy the complete coding region of the ALD gene was amplified and sequenced using DNA isolated from both AFC and maternal leukocytes as templates. Sequencing of the mother's DNA revealed the heterozygous pattern of a 2 bp deletion in exon 5, the most frequent individual mutation leading to X-ALD. It has previously been described to result in a complete loss of protein. This deletion was excluded in the fetus. Accordingly, ALDP was readily detected in AFC by immunofluorescence. We conclude that under circumstances of incomplete data about the index case the combination of methods, namely DNA analysis of the heterozygous mother, and biochemical, immunocytochemical and DNA analyses in fetal cells can secure a reliable prenatal diagnosis of X-ALD.