Background: parkin mutations are a common cause of parkinsonism. Possessing two parkin mutations leads to early-onset parkinsonism, while having one mutation may predispose to lateonset disease. This dosage pattern suggests that some parkin families should exhibit intergenerational variation in age at onset resembling anticipation. A subset of familial PD exhibits anticipation, the cause of which is unknown. The aim of this study was to determine if anticipation was due to parkin mutation dosage. Methods: We studied 19 kindreds that had early-onset parkinsonism in the offspring generation, late-onset parkinsonism in the parent generation, and ≥ 20 years of anticipation. We also studied 28 early-onset parkinsonism cases without anticipation. Patients were diagnosed by neurologists at a movement disorder clinic. parkin analysis included sequencing and dosage analysis of all 12 exons. Results: Only one of 19 cases had compound parkin mutations, but contrary to our postulate, the affected relative with late-onset parkinsonism did not have a parkin mutation. In effect, none of the anticipation cases could be attributed to parkin. In contrast, 21% of early-onset parkinsonism patients without anticipation had parkin mutations. Conclusion: Anticipation is not linked to parkin, and may signify a distinct disease entity. © 2005 Poorkaj et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.