X-linked mental retardation is a very common condition that affects approximately 1 in 600 males. Despite recent progress, in most cases the molecular defects underlying this disorder remain unknown. Recently, a study using the candidate gene approach demonstrated the presence of mutations in PAK3 (p21-activating kinase) associated with nonspecific mental retardation. PAK3 is a member of the larger family of PAK genes. PAK proteins have been implicated as critical downstream effectors that link Rho-GTPases to the actin cytoskeleton and to MAP kinase cascades, including the c-Jun amino-terminal kinase (JNK) and p38. We screened 12 MRX pedigrees that map to a large region overlying Xq21-q24. Mutation screening of the whole coding region of the PAK3 gene was performed by using a combination of denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis and direct sequencing. We have identified a novel missense mutation in exon 2 of PAK3 gene (R67C) in MRX47. This confirms the involvement of PAK3 in MRX following the report of a nonsense mutation recently reported in MRX30. In the MRX47 family, all affected males show moderate to severe mental retardation. No seizures, statural growth deficiency, or minor facial or other abnormal physical features were observed. This mutation R67C is located in a conserved polybasic domain (AA 66-68) of the protein that is predicted to play a major role in the GTPases binding and stimulation of Pak activity.