The espins are actin-bundling proteins of brush border microvilli and Sertoli cell-spermatid junctions. We have determined that espins are also present in hair cell stereocilia and have uncovered a connection between the espin gene and jerker, a recessive mutation that causes hair cell degeneration, deafness, and vestibular dysfunction. The espin gene maps to the same region of mouse chromosome 4 as jerker. The tissues of jerker mice do not accumulate espin proteins but contain normal levels of espin mRNAs. The espin gene of jerker mice has a frameshift mutation that affects the espin C-terminal actin-bundling module. These data suggest that jerker mice are, in effect, espin null and that the jerker phenotype results from a mutation in the espin gene.