A subpopulation of dogs of the Collie and Australian Shepherd breeds show increased sensitivity to central nervous actions of ivermectin, doramectin, loperamide, and probably several other drugs. The molecular background for this greater sensitivity is a nonsense mutation in the MDR1 efflux pump, which is part of the functional blood-brain barrier and normally limits drug penetration into the brain. This report describes a rapid PCR-based method for detection of this nt230(del4) MDR1 mutation using a small amount of genomic DNA from blood cells. Thereby, homozygous intact, homozygous mutated, and heterozygous mutated MDR1 genotypes can be clearly differentiated by high resolution polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Using this diagnostic test two Collies and one Australian Shepherd were screened for the nt230(del4) MDR1 mutation. The Collies had no history of altered drug sensitivity and showed homozygous intact and heterozygous mutated MDR1 alleles, respectively. However, the Australian Shepherd developed clear signs of neurotoxicity including ataxia, crawling, acoustic and tactile hyperexcitability, and miosis after a single dose of moxidectin (400 microg/kg). For this dog two mutated MDR1 alleles were detected. This report describes for the first time moxidectin neurotoxicosis in a dog with a homozygous MDR1 mutation.