Recessively inherited loss-of-function mutations in the PTEN-induced putative kinase 1(Pink1), DJ-1 (Park7) and Parkin (Park2) genes are linked to familial cases of early-onset Parkinson's disease (PD). As part of its strategy to provide more tools for the research community, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF) funded the generation of novel rat models with targeted disruption ofPink1, DJ-1 or Parkin genes and determined if the loss of these proteins would result in a progressive PD-like phenotype. Pathological, neurochemical and behavioral outcome measures were collected at 4, 6 and 8. months of age in homozygous KO rats and compared to wild-type (WT) rats. Both Pink1 and DJ-1 KO rats showed progressive nigral neurodegeneration with about 50% dopaminergic cell loss observed at 8 months of age. ThePink1 KO and DJ-1 KO rats also showed a two to three fold increase in striatal dopamine and serotonin content at 8 months of age. Both Pink1 KO and DJ-1 KO rats exhibited significant motor deficits starting at 4. months of age. However, Parkin KO rats displayed normal behaviors with no neurochemical or pathological changes. These results demonstrate that inactivation of the Pink1 or DJ-1 genes in the rat produces progressive neurodegeneration and early behavioral deficits, suggesting that these recessive genes may be essential for the survival of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra (SN). These MJFF-generated novel rat models will assist the research community to elucidate the mechanisms by which these recessive genes produce PD pathology and potentially aid in therapeutic development. © 2014.