Proteoglycans are associated with all kinds of amyloid deposits in the human body. These complex macromolecules, in particular heparan sulphate proteoglycans, have also been implicated in several features of the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD), including the genesis of senile plaques, cerebrovascular amyloid, and neurofibrillary tangles. In this review we focus on the role of proteoglycans and glycosaminoglycans in amyloidogenesis in general and in AD in particular. Heparan sulphate proteoglycans may promote amyloid-beta peptide (Abeta) or tau fibrillisation on the one hand, and provide resistance against proteolytic breakdown on the other. Knowledge about the role of proteoglycans in AD pathology may eventually be of therapeutic use, because small polysulphated compounds, which can interfere with the interaction between proteoglycan and Abeta, have been shown to stop or even prevent amyloidogenesis.