Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is one of a family of neurodegenerative diseases, first diagnosed in 1996. Scientific evidence strongly supports the hypothesis that it is acquired through consumption of bovine spongiform encephalopathy-infected meat. The majority of cases have been diagnosed in the UK in young individuals, with an excess of cases in the north and a significant cluster of cases in Leicestershire. Many uncertainties in its biology and epidemiology, in particular the length of the incubation period, make predictions of any future epidemic difficult. Studies are currently under way to obtain more precise estimates of the prevalence of asymptomatic infection through testing tonsil and appendix tissues for the abnormal prion protein.