To study the effect of SV40 large T-antigen expression in myelin-forming cells of both the central and peripheral nervous system, a series of transgenic mice were generated expressing the SV40 large T-antigen under control of the myelin basic protein (MBP) promoter. Two neurologic phenotypes, designated A and B, appeared among individual transgenic founders and their progeny. The A mice developed a severe action tremor at about 10 days of age that progressed into periods of convulsions and early death by three to four weeks of age. In contrast, the B mice exhibited a progressive hindlimb ataxia and had a more normal lifespan. The A mice displayed hypomyelinating lesions in the central nervous system (CNS), whereas the B mice had lesions in either the peripheral nervous system (PNS) alone or in both the PNS and CNS. Immunohistochemical staining of spinal cord sections of a type A mouse showed a substantial depletion in MBP. Moreover, T-antigen-positive cells appeared predominantly in white matter tracts as randomly distributed single cells. Double labeling immunocytochemistry demonstrated that some of these T-antigen-positive cells were positive for oligodendrocyte differentiation markers MBP and O4. Thus, T-antigen expression appeared to coincide with a terminal stage of oligodendrocyte differentiation.