Aging in the central nervous system is associated with progressive loss of function which is exacerbated by neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. The two primary cell replacement strategies involve transplantation of exogenous tissue, and activation of proliferation of endogenous cells. Transplanted tissue is used to either directly replace lost tissue, or to implant genetically engineered cells that secrete factors which promote survival and/or proliferation. However, successful application of any cell replacement therapy requires knowledge of the complex relationships between neural stem cells and the more restricted neural and glial progenitor cells. This review focuses on recent advances in the field of stem cell biology of the central nervous system, with an emphasis on cellular and molecular approaches to replacing cells lost in neurodegenerative disorders.