Inheritance of a single copy of the gene encoding huntingtin (HD) with an expanded polyglutamine-encoding CAG repeat leads to neuronal dysfunction, neurodegeneration and the development of the symptoms of Huntington's disease (HD). We have found that the steady-state mRNA levels of two members of the phosphodiesterase (PDE) multi-gene family decrease over time in the striatum of R6 transgenic HD mice relative to age-matched wild-type littermates. Phosphodiesterase 10A (PDE10A) mRNA and protein levels decline in the striatum of R6/1 and R6/2 HD mice prior to motor symptom development. The rate of reduction in PDE10A protein correlates with the rate of decline of the message and the decrease in PDE10A mRNA and protein is more rapid in R6/2 compared with R6/1 mice. Both PDE10A protein and mRNA, therefore, decline to minimum levels prior to the onset of overt physical symptoms in both strains of transgenic mice. Moreover, protein levels of PDE10A are decreased in the caudate-putamen of grade 3 HD patients compared with age-matched neuropathologically normal controls. Striatal PDE1B mRNA levels also decline in R6/1 and R6/2 HD mice; however, the decrease in striatal PDE10A levels (>60%) was greater than that observed for PDE1B and immediately preceded the onset of motor symptoms. In contrast, PDE4A mRNA levels are relatively low in the striatum and do not differ between age-matched wild-type and transgenic HD mice. This suggests that the regulation of PDE10A and PDE1B, but not PDE4A, mRNA levels is dependent on the relative expression of or number of CAG repeats within the human HD transgene. The loss of phosphodiesterase activity may lead to dysregulation of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) and cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) levels in the striatum, a region of the brain that contributes to the control of movement and cognition.