Essential tremor (ET) is one of the most common neurological diseases; although it is a disease about which we are only beginning to develop an understanding. Effective treatment options for the disorder are severely limited. The traditional view of ET as a benign, familial, monosymptomatic disorder is being replaced by one of ET as a disease or family of diseases with aetiological, clinical, and pathological heterogeneity. Recent identification of putative environmental toxins linked to ET provide hope for disease prevention through a reduction in exposure to risk factors. Pathological and genetic studies will yield new insights into disease pathogenesis and mechanisms, which may result in the development of more effective symptomatic therapies developed with an understanding of the disease biology. These insights also have the potential to form the basis for neuroprotective therapies.