Central motor conduction time (CMCT) after transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of the cortex, electromyography and nerve conduction velocity were performed in 24 patients with multiple system (MSA) and late onset cerebellar atrophy (LOCA) (often olivopontocerebellar atrophy--OPCA -). CMCT was abnormal in 7 patients with OPCA and one with LOCA. CMCT abnormalities (43% of cases) and increased threshold (68%) were more often found within OPCA group than in another multisystem atrophy and LOCA. Reduction in amplitude of the response after TMS was significantly correlated with cerebral hemispheres's atrophy. Increased threshold was correlated with upper vermal hemisphere atrophy and enlargement of the fourth ventricle. Electrophysiologic signs of mixed peripheral neuropathy were found in 8 patients. TMS abnormalities were not related to peripheral nerve involvement. Marked variation in CMCT suggests heterogeneity in these diseases. However, the percentage of CMCT abnormalities in OPCA group suggests that TMS seems to play a role in the neurophysiological diagnosis of these heterogeneous disorders.