In the middle of the 19th century, muscle paralysis captured the interest of anatomists. Later on, pathologists and clinicians also became interested in the disease. The clinical features of the disease were largely defined by the English physician Meryon and the French physician Duchenne. It has now become clear that Meryon made the first systematic clinical and pathological study of the type of dystrophy with whose name Duchenne is usually associated, although Duchenne extended the observations, and many investigators since then have identified a variety of muscular dystrophies. This illustrated and comprehensive historical account deals successively with the early history of muscular dystrophy, refinements of its clinical picture, heterogeneity and nosology, the biochemistry, pathogenesis and the molecular genetics of the disorder and, finally, gene therapy. The story of advancing medical knowledge from relatively simple observations to the complexities of genetics is enhanced by biographical details of the many individuals themselves who have made significant contributions to the subject. This book should be of interest not only to those concerned with neuromuscular disease, but to all historians of medicine and science.