Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are characterised by the appearance of reactive microglial and astroglial cells, a process referred to as neuroinflammation. In transgenic mouse models of mutant SOD1-associated familial ALS, reactive microglial cells and astrocytes actively contribute to the death of motor neurons. The biological processes that drive this glial reaction are complex and have both beneficial and deleterious effects on motor neurons. Therapeutic interventions targeting these cells are being explored. An improved understanding of the biological processes that cause neuroinflammation will help to define its medical importance and to identify the therapeutic potential of interfering with this reaction.