Cerebrotendinous xanthomatosis (CTX) is a rare autosomal recessive sterol storage disease characterised clinically by juvenile bilateral cataracts, progressive neurological dysfunction, and formation of tendon xanthomata. We describe the clinical and biochemical features, molecular diagnosis and long-term management of the first reported Australasian case of CTX. Molecular analysis confirmed the diagnosis of CTX and demonstrated that the patient was homozygous for a G --> A transition in the splice donor site of intron 4 of the sterol 27-hydroxylase gene. Serum cholestanol concentrations were decreased with the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor simvastatin alone and greater reductions were achieved after the addition of the bile acid chenodeoxycholic acid; suggesting a synergistic effect of this combination. Despite serum cholestanol concentrations remaining within the low-normal range, there has been no significant improvement in mental and physical abilities or in EEG abnormalities with 5 years of treatment. Metabolism of radiolabeled 7-ketocholesterol to aqueous soluble products was absent in CTX-derived macrophages. Consistent wi th this finding, plasma 7 alpha -hydroxycholesterol, 7 beta -hydroxycholesterol, and 7-ketocholesterol concentrations were increased in the CTX subject compared with controls. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.