Multiple sclerosis is characterized at the gross pathological level by the presence of widespread focal demyelinating lesions of the myelin-rich white matter. However, it is becoming clear that grey matter is not spared, even during the earliest phases of the disease. Furthermore, grey matter damage may have an important role both in physical and cognitive disability. Grey matter pathology involves both inflammatory and neurodegenerative mechanisms, but the relationship between the two is unclear. Histological, immunological and neuroimaging studies have provided new insight in this rapidly expanding field, and form the basis of the most recent hypotheses on the pathogenesis of grey matter damage.