Abstract Spinocerebellar ataxia type 7 is a rare autosomal dominant cerebellar ataxia (ADCA). Herein, we describe the molecular and clinical findings in patients within six generations of a large Chinese family with spinocerebellar ataxia. To identify the genetic cause(s), 4 affected patients and 26 asymptomatic relatives were recruited for the study. Molecular screening of the SCA1 and SCA7 genes was carried out by subcloning and direct PCR-sequencing methods. Both neurological and ophthalmic examinations were performed to investigate the clinical characteristics of the disease. The patients had typical cerebellar ataxia, achromatopsia and macular degeneration, and displayed a rare phenotype manifesting as a combination of cerebellar ataxia and craniocervical dystonia. Mutational analysis of the SCA7 genes demonstrated expanded CAG-repeats in the four patients. In conclusion, we identified expanded CAG-repeats in the SCA7 gene within members of a large Chinese family with spinocerebellar ataxia. The defined phenotypic characteristics of the patients may be helpful for clinical diagnosis and genetic typing of new patients.