L1 disease is a group of overlapping clinical phenotypes including X-linked hydrocephalus, MASA syndrome, spastic paraparesis type 1, and X-linked agenesis of corpus callosum. The patients are characterized by hydrocephalus, agenesis or hypoplasia of corpus callosum and corticospinal tracts, mental retardation, spastic paraplegia, and adducted thumbs. The responsible gene, L1CAM, encodes the L1 protein which is a member of the immunoglobulin superfamily of neuronal cell adhesion molecules. The L1 protein is expressed in neurons and Schwann cells and seems to be essential for nervous system development and function. The patients’ gene mutations are distributed over the functional protein domains. The exact mechanisms by which these mutations cause a loss of L1 protein function are unknown. There appears to be a relationship between the patients’ clinical phenotype and the genotype. Missense mutations in extracellular domains or mutations in cytoplasmic regions cause milder phenotypes than those leading to truncation in extracellular domains or to non-detectable L1 protein. Diagnosis of patients and carriers, including prenatal testing, is based on the characteristic clinical picture and DNA mutation analyses. At present, there is no therapy for the prevention or cure of patients’ neurological disabilities. Hum Mutat 18:1–12, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.