Oxidative stress is increasingly implicated in neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's, and Creutzfeld-Jakob diseases or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Reactive oxygen species seem to play a significant role in neuronal cell death in that they generate reactive aldehydes from membrane lipid peroxidation. Several neuronal diseases are associated with increased accumulation of abnormal protein adducts of reactive aldehydes, which mediate oxidative stress-linked pathological events, including cellular growth inhibition and apoptosis induction. Combining findings on neurodegeneration and oxidative stress in Drosophila with studies on the metabolic characteristics of the human enzyme carbonyl reductase (CR), it is clear now that CR has a potential physiological role for neuroprotection in humans. Several lines of evidence suggest that CR represents a significant pathway for the detoxification of reactive aldehydes derived from lipid peroxidation and that CR in humans is essential for neuronal cell survival and to confer protection against oxidative stress-induced brain degeneration.