To test the hypothesis that the genetic etiology for reading disability may differ in males and females, data from identical and fraternal twin pairs were analysed using both concordance and multiple regression methods. The sample included 264 identical (129 male, 135 female) and 214 same-sex fraternal (121 male, 93 female) twin pairs in which at least one member of each pair had reading difficulties. The difference between the identical and fraternal twin pair concordance rates was slightly larger for females than for males, suggesting a possible sex difference in etiology; however, a loglinear analysis of the three-way interaction of sex, zygosity, and concordance was not significant (p⩾0.17). The estimate of group heritability (hg2), a standardized measure of the extent to which reading difficulties are due to genetic influences, was somewhat greater for females than males (0.65 vs 0.54), but this difference was also not significant (p⩾0.35). Gender differences in hg2 were larger for younger children (less than 11.5 years of age) than for older children. However, the three-way interaction of sex, zygosity, and age was not significant when age was treated either categorically (p⩾0.86) or continuously (p⩾0.71). Thus, results of this study provide little or no evidence for a differential genetic etiology of reading difficulties in males and females. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.