Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies form a group of fatal neurodegenerative disorders that have the unique property of being infectious, sporadic or genetic in origin. These diseases are believed to be the consequence of the conformational conversion of the prion protein into an abnormal isoform. Their exact pathogenic mechanism remains uncertain, but it is believed that oxidative stress plays a central role. In this article, we will first review in detail the data supporting the latter hypothesis. Subsequently, we will discuss the relationship between the prion protein and the cellular response to oxidative stress, attempting ultimately to link PrP function and neurodegeneration in these disorders.