Trophic factors, administered systemically or delivered via genetically-modified cells grafted into target regions, have been proposed as putative therapeutic agents in human neurodegenerative disorders. In parallel to the study of the beneficial effects in experimental models of particular diseases, a crucial aspect of the study of trophic factors is the gathering of information about the actual trophic factor expression in human diseased states. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) promotes survival and growth of various nerve cell populations during normal development and following various insults in the developing and adult brain. In particular, BDNF prevents cell death of certain striatal populations in excitotoxic models of Huntington disease (HD) following intrastriatal injection of quinolinic acid to the adult rodent brain. The present study examines BDNF expression, by gel electrophoresis and Western blotting, and immunohistochemistry, in the brains of patients who had suffered from HD. Reduced BDNF expression, ranging from 53 to 82%, has been found in the caudate and putamen in HD when compared with age-matched controls. No modifications in BDNF expression levels have been seen in the parietal cortex, temporal cortex and hippocampus. Furthermore, immunohistochemistry has shown reduced BDNF immunoreactivity in caudate neurons, but not in cortical neurons in HD when compared with controls. These data demonstrate selective BDNF decay in regions that are vulnerable to HD, and suggest, in combination with results in experimental models, that a BDNF surplus may have beneficial effects in the treatment of HD.