Abstract There is a marked deficit in the binding of the glycine receptor antagonist strychnine to the CNS of the mutant mouse spastic. The characteristics and pharmacology of [ 3H]strychnine binding to washed homogenates of spastic and littermate control spinal cord and brainstem were investigated to determine the nature of this defect. The maximal binding of [ 3H]strychnine to spastic homogenates is approximately 20% the value obtained from littermate control homogenates; the affinity of [ 3H]strychnine binding is approximately 25% lower than littermate control values. The pharmacology of [ 3H]strychnine binding has the same rank order of potency in spastic and littermate control mice; however, there are small differences in the potency of several compounds in spastic vs littermate control animals. These results indicate that the glycine receptor alteration seen in the spastic mutant mouse is primarily due to a decrease in receptor number. They also suggest that the pharmacological characteristics of the glycine receptor in spastic are different from littermate control. The data do not permit a distinction between whether the strychnine binding sites found in spastic represent the same population seen in littermate control animals or are a subpopulation that is spared by the mutation.