"Familial parkinsonism" cannot be explained merely by size of or advanced age within families. Significant numbers of previously unrecognized PD patients may be identified despite a "negative" family history. That is, the patient's report of an absence of familial parkinsonism is frequently inaccurate. The prevalence rate in relatives of PD patients appears to be higher than the general population-regardless of the family history reported by a PD patient. We believe our study suggests that genetic influences or early life environmental exposures are likely to be of etiological importance in PD.