Tetanus toxin and botulinal toxins are potent inhibitors of neuronal exocytosis. Within the past five years the protein sequences of all eight neurotoxins have been determined, their mode of action as metalloproteases has been established, and their intraneuronal targets have been identified. The toxins act by selectively proteolysing the synaptic vesicle protein synaptobrevin (VAMP) or the presynaptic membrane proteins syntaxin (HPC-1) and SNAP-25. These three proteins form the core of a complex that mediates fusion of carrier vesicles to target membranes. Tetanus and botulinal neurotoxins could serve in the future as tools to study membrane trafficking events, or even higher brain functions such as behaviour and learning.