Abstract We studied exonic trinucleotide repeats and expression of androgen receptor (AR) gene in the spinal cord from an autopsied patient with X-linked spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA). Forty-nine CAG triplet repeats were found in tissues from the spinal cord, cerebrum, cerebellum, cardiac muscle and bladder, while there were 20–24 CAG repeats in these tissues from control subjects, consisting of three patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and three patients with lung cancer. Thus, mitotic instability of the AR gene in SBMA may not occur at the level of somatic cells. To determine whether expression of the AR gene in the spinal cord of SBMA differs from that in control subjects, we used quantitative reverse transcriptase (RT)-PCR and Western blot. AR mRNA and protein were detected in the spinal cord from the patient with SBMA, but the levels of both AR mRNA and protein were less than those from the patients with ALS in whom the loss of motor neurons was similar to findings in the patient with SBMA. These findings suggest that structural alteration plus a reduced level of AR in the spinal cord are involved in the pathogenesis of SBMA, resulting in degeneration of motor neurons.