1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25(OH)2D3), the biologically active form of vitamin D, exerts an immunosuppressive effect and can completely prevent experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). 1,25(OH)2D3 exerts most of its actions only after it has bound to its specific nuclear receptors. To investigate the possible role of vitamin D receptor gene (VDRG) polymorphism in susceptibility to or disease-modulation of MS, we evaluated 77 Japanese patients with 'conventional' MS and 95 controls. A VDRG allelic polymorphism was assessed by Bsm1 endonuclease restriction after specific PCR amplification. Genotypic polymorphism was clearly defined as BB (absence of restriction site on both alleles), bb (presence of restriction site on both alleles), or Bb (heterozygous). We found overexpression of the b allele (92.9 vs. 84.2%: P=0.0138) and homozygote bb (85.7 vs. 71.6%; P=0.0263) in MS patients compared with controls. The results indicate for the first time an association of MS with VDRG polymorphism, which may be involved in pathogenesis of MS, or in the linkage disequilibrium of VDRG to another pathogenic gene loci. The role of VDR gene polymorphism should be further studied in other populations, and the distribution of other polymorphism, such as Apa I, Taq I, should be also analyzed to confirm another susceptibility gene for MS and to obtain more adequate strategies for treatment of MS.