1. In recent decades evidence has accumulated demonstrating the birth and functional integration of new neurons in specific regions of the adult mammalian brain, including the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus and the subventricular zone. 2. Studies in a variety of models have revealed genetic, environmental and pharmacological factors that regulate adult neurogenesis. The present review examines some of the molecular and cellular mechanisms that could be mediating these regulatory effects in both the normal and dysfunctional brain. 3. The dysregulation of adult neurogenesis may contribute to the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Huntington's, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, as well as psychiatric disorders such as depression. Recent evidence supports this idea and, furthermore, also indicates that factors promoting neurogenesis can modify the onset and progression of specific brain disorders, including Huntington's disease and depression.