Glycerol kinase is an X chromosome-encoded enzyme involved in the metabolism of endogenous and dietary glycerolipids. The physiological significance of its activity in mammals is not well understood. Glycerol kinase deficiency in humans occurs as an isolated enzyme deficiency or as part of a contiguous gene deletion syndrome in variable association with Duchenne muscular dystrophy and adrenal hypoplasia congenita. Isolated glycerol kinase deficiency has an inconstant phenotype, ranging from asymptomatic hyperglycerolemia to a severe metabolic disorder with growth and psychomotor retardation. Although intragenic mutations were reported recently, the pathophysiological basis for the phenotypic variability remains unknown. To understand better the physiological significance of glycerol kinase and the pathophysiology of its deficiency, we generated glycerol kinase-deficient mice by gene targeting. Mutant male mice appear normal at birth, but exhibit postnatal growth retardation, altered fat metabolism with profound hyperglycerolemia and elevated free fatty acids, autonomous glucocorticoid synthesis and death by 3-4 days of age. Heterozygous females are healthy and biochemically normal. The biochemical features observed in glycerol kinase-deficient mice provide the basis for further investigations into the pathogenesis of the human disorder.