Central motor conduction to the small hand muscles was investigated in 59 patients with peroneal muscular atrophy and hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP) by using transcranial magnetic brain stimulation. These comprised 20 patients with type I hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy (HMSN I), 15 with type II (HMSN II), 4 with HMSN I and 10 with HMSN II with associated pyramidal features, and 10 with the "pure" form of HSP. Central motor conduction was usually normal in HMSN I, HMSN II, and HSP. In HMSN I with pyramidal signs, central motor conduction time was greatly prolonged bilaterally. This result may reflect an associated involvement of the central motor pathways in these patients. In HMSN II with accompanying pyramidal features, 6 of the 10 patients had abnormal central motor conduction, although conduction times were only slightly prolonged, suggesting a different pathophysiological pattern.