The mRNA expression levels of GDNF, GDNFR-alpha and RET were examined in the muscles of amyotrophic lateral screlosis (ALS) and X-linked spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA). GDNF mRNA levels were significantly elevated to variable extent in the diseased muscles compared to control muscles, although they were not specific to the type of the diseases. The diseased muscles also have a different expression pattern of GDNF mRNA isoforms from controls. GDNF mRNA expression, however, tended to reduce in advanced muscle pathology. On the other hand, GDNFR-alpha mRNA levels were not changed significantly on expression levels in the diseased muscles. In situ hybridization study revealed that GDNF and GDNFR-alpha mRNAs were localized in subsarcolemmal space of muscle cells. RET mRNA was not detected in control nor diseased muscles. These results suggest that the elevated muscle GDNF acts as a trophic signal for motor neurons of motor neuron diseases, implying a possible therapeutic implication of GDNF to this type of diseases.