We demonstrate here the importance of interleukin signalling pathways in cognitive function and the normal physiology of the CNS. Thorough investigation of an MRX critical region in Xp22.1-21.3 enabled us to identify a new gene expressed in brain that is responsible for a non-specific form of X-linked mental retardation. This gene encodes a 696 amino acid protein that has homology to IL-1 receptor accessory proteins. Non-overlapping deletions and a nonsense mutation in this gene were identified in patients with cognitive impairment only. Its high level of expression in post-natal brain structures involved in the hippocampal memory system suggests a specialized role for this new gene in the physiological processes underlying memory and learning abilities.