Methylphenidate is a commonly used medication in the United States. This central nervous system stimulant has a mechanism of action distinct from that of amphetamine. The Food and Drug Administration has approved methylphenidate for the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy. Treatment with methylphenidate has been advocated in patients with traumatic brain injury and stroke, cancer patients, and those with human immunodeficiency virus infection. Placebo-controlled trials have documented its efficacy as an adjunctive agent in the treatment of depression and pain. This article reviews the current understanding of the mechanism of action and efficacy of methylphenidate in various clinical conditions.