The choroid plexus epithelium is a cuboidal cell monolayer, which produces the majority of the cerebrospinal fluid. The concerted action of a variety of integral membrane proteins mediates the transepithelial movement of solutes and water across the epithelium. Secretion by the choroid plexus is characterized by an extremely high rate and by the unusual cellular polarization of well-known epithelial transport proteins. This review focuses on the specific ion and water transport by the choroid plexus cells, and then attempts to integrate the action of specific transport proteins to formulate a model of cerebrospinal fluid secretion. Significant emphasis is placed on the concept of isotonic fluid transport across epithelia, as there is still surprisingly little consensus on the basic biophysics of this phenomenon. The role of the choroid plexus in the regulation of fluid and electrolyte balance in the central nervous system is discussed, and choroid plexus dysfunctions are described in a very diverse set of clinical conditions such as aging, Alzheimer's disease, brain edema, neoplasms, and hydrocephalus. Although the choroid plexus may only have an indirect influence on the pathogenesis of these conditions, the ability to modify epithelial function may be an important component of future therapies.