Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) stimulates neuronal growth and protects nigral dopamine neurons in animal models of Parkinson disease (PD). Therefore, BDNF is a candidate gene for PD. The authors investigated five single-nucleotide polymorphisms in 597 cases of familial PD. Homozygosity for the rare allele of the functional BDNF G196A (Val66Met) variant was associated with a 5.3-year older onset age (p = 0.0001). These findings suggest that BDNF may influence PD onset age. Copyright © 2005 by AAN Enterprises, Inc.