Despite the different genetic defects underlying degenerative ataxias, it has been suggested that mitochondrial energy production and antioxidative metabolism dysfunction may be common biochemical alterations related to these diseases. Acetylcarnitine, a cholinomimetic substance, is involved in oxidative metabolism and is a potential source of acetyl groups for the synthesis of acetylcholine in the mammalian brain. To determine whether treatment with L-acetylcarnitine may improve some clinical conditions of patients with ataxia, a double-blind crossover study with L-acetylcarnitine was performed in 24 patients with degenerative cerebellar diseases. Patients were selected from an ongoing prospective follow-up study at the Department of Neurology at the University of Florence, Italy. Each treatment phase with L-acetylcarnitine or placebo lasted 6 months, after which patients were crossed over to the other treatment phase. Ataxia was documented and quantified with use of a clinical score. After the trial, we observed a statistically significant improvement of some symptoms and a slow progression of the disease in both groups of patients.