Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive loss of motor neurons. Using unbiased transcript profiling in an ALS mouse model, we identified a role for the co-stimulatory pathway, a key regulator of immune responses. Furthermore, we observed that this pathway is upregulated in the blood of 56% of human patients with ALS. A therapy using a monoclonal antibody to CD40L was developed that slows weight loss, delays paralysis and extends survival in an ALS mouse model. This work demonstrates that unbiased transcript profiling can identify cellular pathways responsive to therapeutic intervention in a preclinical model of human disease.