Cells rely on several transition metals to regulate a wide range of metabolic and signaling functions. The diversity and efficiency of their physiological functions are derived from atomic properties that are specific to transition metals, most notably an incomplete inner valence subshell. These properties impart upon these elements the ability to fluctuate among a variety of positively charged ionic forms, and a chemical flexibility that allows them to impose conformational changes upon the proteins to which they bind. By this means, transition metals can serve as the catalytic centers of enzymes for redox reactions including molecular oxygen and endogenous peroxides. This review addresses the consequences of the aberrant translocation of the redoxcapable essential transition elements, iron, copper, and manganese, upon the brain with an emphasis on uncontrolled and deleterious oxidative events. The potential of metal-protein interactions in facilitating such events, and their association with the physiologically redox-inert metals zinc and aluminum, are related to their postulated contribution to the pathology of neurodegeneration.