Doppel (Dpl) is a paralog of the mammalian prion protein (PrP); it is abundant in testes but expressed at low levels in the adult central nervous system. In two Prnp-deficient (Prnp(0/0)) mouse lines (Ngsk and Rcm0), Dpl overexpression correlated with ataxia and death of cerebellar neurons. To determine whether Dpl overexpression, rather than the dysregulation of genes neighboring the Prn gene complex, was responsible for the ataxic syndrome, we placed the mouse Dpl coding sequence under the control of the Prnp promoter and produced transgenic (Tg) mice on the Prnp(0/0)-ZrchI background (hereafter referred to as ZrchI). ZrchI mice exhibit neither Dpl overexpression nor cerebellar degeneration. In contrast, Tg(Dpl)ZrchI mice showed cerebellar granule and Purkinje cell loss; the age of onset of ataxia was inversely proportional to the levels of Dpl protein. Crosses of Tg mice overexpressing wild-type PrP with two lines of Tg(Dpl)ZrchI mice resulted in a phenotypic rescue of the ataxic syndrome, while Dpl overexpression was unchanged. Restoration of PrP expression also rendered the Tg(Dpl) mice susceptible to prion infection, with incubation times indistinguishable from non-Tg controls. Whereas the rescue of Dpl-induced neurotoxicity by coexpression of PrP argues for an interaction between the PrP and Dpl proteins in vivo, the unaltered incubation times in Tg mice overexpressing Dpl in the central nervous system suggest that Dpl is unlikely to be involved in prion formation.