We describe a Japanese family which includes 13 patients in five generations who have dominantly inherited ataxia. Molecular testing revealed that in these patients the SCA6/CACNL1A4 gene carries the smallest known expanded CAG repeat (21 repeat units). The clinical features of these patients exhibited predominantly cerebellar ataxia with onset late in adult life and a very slowly progressive disease course. In addition, this SCA6 family showed some characteristic clinical and genetic features, including (1) apparent lack of genetic anticipation, with an intergenerationally stable CAG repeat size and (2) down-beat nystagmus and diabetes mellitus in some of the SCA6 patients. We identified three individuals homozygous for an expanded CAG repeat (21/21) in the SCA6/CACNL1A4 gene, two of whom were symptomatic. There were no apparent differences in clinical phenotype between the individuals homozygous and those heterozygous for an expanded CAG repeat in the SCA6/CACNL1A4 gene.