Accumulating evidence indicates that abnormal conformation of mutant superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) is an essential feature underlying the pathogenesis of mutant SOD1-linked familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Here we investigated the role of ubiquitin-proteasome pathway in the mutant SOD1-related cell death and the effect of oxidative stress on the misfolding of mutant SOD1. Transient overexpression of ubiquitin with human SOD1 (wild-type, ala4val, gly85arg, gly93ala) in Neuro2A cells decreased the amount of mutant SOD1, but not of wild-type, while only mutants were co-immunoprecipitated with poly-ubiquitin. Proteasome inhibition by lactacystin augmented accumulation of mutant SOD1 in the non-ionic detergent-insoluble fraction. The spinal cord lysates from mutant SOD1 transgenic mice showed multiple carbonylated proteins, including mutant SOD1 with SDS-resistant dimer formation. Furthermore, the treatment of hSOD1-expressing cells with hydrogen peroxide promoted the oligomerization, and detergent-insolubility of mutant SOD1 alone, and the oxidized mutant SOD1 proteins were more heavily poly-ubiquitinated. In Neuro2A cells stably expressing human SOD1 protein, the proteasome function measured by chymotrypsin-like activity, was decreased over time without a quantitative alteration of the 20S proteasomal component. Finally, primary motor neurons from the mouse embryonic spinal cord were more vulnerable to lactacystin than non-motor neurons. These results indicate that the sustained expression of mutant SOD1 leads to proteasomal inhibition and motor neuronal death, which in part explains the pathogenesis of mutant SOD1-linked ALS.