A partial duplication of chromosome 17 is associated with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 1A (CMT1A), a demyelinating peripheral neuropathy that causes progressive distal muscle atrophy and sensory impairment. Trisomic expression of peripheral myelin protein 22 (PMP22) whose gene is contained within the duplicated region is considered to be responsible for the disease. By using recombinant gene technology in rodents, we had demonstrated previously that PMP22 is sensitive to gene dosage. Homozygous PMP22 knockout (PMP22(0/0)) mice and transgenic animals carrying additional copies of the PMP22 gene develop distinct peripheral polyneuropathies. We have now performed a detailed morphometrical analysis of the L3 roots, quadriceps and saphenous nerves of these PMP22-mutant mice to study whether the myelin and potential axonal deficits are evenly distributed. The L3 roots and the peripheral nerves were chosen as representatives of the proximal and distal segments of the peripheral nervous system. When the roots were compared with the peripheral nerves, myelin deficiencies appeared more severe at the radicular levels, in particular the ventral roots. Decreased numbers of large calibre axons were a prominent feature in the motor branches of both strains of PMP22-mutant mice, and these axonal deficits were more severe distally. Active axonal damage was only observed in the nerves of PMP22(0/0) mice. Despite the distinct effects on myelination and the Schwann cell phenotype that characterize the neuropathies of PMP22-mutant mice, both strains develop a distally accentuated axonopathy as a common disease mechanism which is likely to be responsible for the neurological deficits.