The intronic GAA repeat expansion in the frataxin (FXN) gene causes the hereditary neurodegenerative disorder Friedreich ataxia. Although it is generally believed that GAA repeats block transcription elongation, direct proof in eukaryotic systems is lacking. We tested in hybrid minigenes the effect of GAA and TTC repeats on nascent transcription and pre-mRNA processing. Unexpectedly, disease-causing GAA100 repeats did not affect transcriptional elongation in a nuclear HeLa Run On assay, nor did they affect pre-mRNA transcript abundance. However, they did result in a complex defect in pre-mRNA processing. The insertion of GAA but not TTC repeats downstream of reporter exons resulted in their partial or complete exclusion from the mature mRNAs and in the generation of a variety of aberrant splicing products.