In recent years, 2 groups of hereditary neurodegenerative diseases have been recognized in which different genetic defects lead to the accumulation of proteins that contain a carboxyl-terminus that is abnormal in length and primary sequence. In this paper, we review the current knowledge on the molecular basis of diseases from these 2 groups. The first group includes familial British and Danish dementias, in which the molecular genetic defect resides in the BRI2 gene located on chromosome 13. In this group, carboxyl-terminal proteolytic products of the mutant BRI2 proteins aggregate in the extracellular space of the brain and in blood vessels. The second group includes 2 recently described ferritinopathies, in which the molecular genetic defect resides in the ferritin light polypeptide gene located on chromosome 19. In this group, full-length ferritin polypeptides aggregate intracellularly. The study of these conditions has led to the discovery of the BRI2 gene and to the finding of an unsuspected role for ferritin in neurodegeneration. These diseases provide new models in which to study the relationship between abnormal protein aggregation, neuronal cell death, and dementia.