An autosomal dominant presenile dementia affecting 39 individuals in a seven-generation, 383-member pedigree has been studied at Indiana University. In the affected members of this family, clinical symptoms occurred early in life, with an average age at onset of 48.8 years. The presenting clinical features include disequilibrium, neck stiffness, dysphagia, and memory loss. As the disease progresses, further cognitive decline, superior-gaze palsy, and dystaxia also are observed. The average duration from onset of symptoms to death is approximately 10 years. Neuropathologic studies of nine affected individuals showed neuronal loss in several areas of the CNS, as well as argentophilic tau-immunopositive inclusions in neurons and in oligodendroglia. A limited genomic screen by use of DNA samples from 28 family members localized the gene for this disorder to a 3-cM region on chromosome 17, between the markers THRA1 and D17S791. The gene for tau also was analyzed, through samples from the family.