Autosomal dominant spinocerebellar ataxia 7 is associated with retinal degeneration. SCA7, the causative gene, encodes ataxin-7, a ubiquitous 892 amino acid protein of variable sub-cellular localization, and the disease is due to expansion of an unstable CAG repeat in the coding region of the gene. Recent increases in understanding of the mechanisms ofSCA7 -related retinopathy from in vitro and murine model studies prompted us to perform a detailed study of the retinal phenotype of affected members of a family with SCA7 mutation (45-47 CAG repeats). There was a spectrum of severity from mild to severe dysfunction. Early functional abnormalities were at both photoreceptor and post-receptoral levels. When cone and rod photoreceptor dysfunction was present, it was approximately equal. Regional retinal dysfunction was evident: there was more dysfunction centrally than peripherally with least effect in the midperiphery. In vivo cross-sectional retinal images with optical coherence tomography showed an early disease stage of altered foveal lamination (abnormal area of low reflectivity splitting the outer retina-choroidal complex) accompanied in the parafovea by reduced retinal thickness. Later disease stages showed foveal and parafoveal retinal thinning. The phenotype in this family with SCA7 is that of a cone-rod dystrophy. These observations increase interest in a recent hypothesis that ataxin-7 may interfere with the function of CRX (cone-rod homeobox), a transcription factor regulating photoreceptor genes and a cause of a cone-rod dystrophy phenotype in man.