Atypical clinical course and low sensitivity of established diagnostic tests are the main diagnostic problems in the MV2 subtype of sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD). Clinical symptoms and signs, MRI, EEG and biochemical CSF markers were studied in 26 patients. Histological findings were semiquantitatively evaluated. Compared with typical sCJD, the disease duration was prolonged (median 12 months). Dementia, ataxia and psychiatric symptoms were present in all patients. Extrapyramidal signs were observed in 88%. T2-weighted MRI showed basal ganglia hyperintensities in 90%. Increased thalamic signal intensity was detected in 88% on diffusion-weighted MRI. Increased CSF tau-protein was found in 83%, and the 14-3-3 test was positive in 76%. The EEG revealed periodic sharp wave complexes in only two patients. Kuru plaques, severe thalamic and basal ganglia gliosis and spongiform changes, and neuronal loss in the pulvinar were the prominent histological features. At least one of the three diagnostic tests (MRI, tau- and 14-3-3 protein) supported the clinical diagnosis in all patients. MRI was the most sensitive of the diagnostic tests applied. Thalamic hyperintensities were observed unusually frequently. Prolonged disease duration, early and prominent psychiatric symptoms, absence of typical EEG, thalamic hyperintensities on MRI and relatively low 14-3-3 protein sensitivity may be suspicious for variant CJD. However, distinct sensory symptoms and young age at onset, which are often found in the latter, are not common in the MV2 subtype, and the pulvinar sign was observed in only one case.