This Review summarizes recent advances in understanding copper-transporting ATPase 1 (ATP7A), and examines the neurological phenotypes associated with dysfunction of this protein. Involvement of ATP7A in axonal outgrowth, synapse integrity and neuronal activation underscores the fundamental importance of copper metabolism to neurological function. Defects in ATP7A cause Menkes disease, an infantile-onset, lethal condition. Neonatal diagnosis and early treatment with copper injections enhance survival in patients with this disease, and can normalize clinical outcomes if mutant ATP7A molecules retain small amounts of residual activity. Gene replacement rescues a mouse model of Menkes disease, suggesting a potential therapeutic approach for patients with complete loss-of-function ATP7A mutations. Remarkably, a newly discovered ATP7A disorder-isolated distal motor neuropathy-has none of the characteristic clinical or biochemical abnormalities of Menkes disease or its milder allelic variant occipital horn syndrome (OHS), instead resembling Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 2. These findings indicate that ATP7A has a crucial but previously unappreciated role in motor neuron maintenance, and that the mechanism underlying ATP7A-related distal motor neuropathy is distinct from Menkes disease and OHS pathophysiology. Collectively, these insights refine our knowledge of the neurology of ATP7A-related copper transport diseases and pave the way for further progress in understanding ATP7A function.