In this review we summarize the clinical and genetic aspects of Angelman syndrome (AS), its molecular and cellular underpinnings, and current treatment strategies. AS is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by severe cognitive disability, motor dysfunction, speech impairment, hyperactivity, and frequent seizures. AS is caused by disruption of the maternally expressed and paternally imprinted UBE3A, which encodes an E3 ubiquitin ligase. Four mechanisms that render the maternally inherited UBE3A nonfunctional are recognized, the most common of which is deletion of the maternal chromosomal region 15q11-q13. Remarkably, duplication of the same chromosomal region is one of the few characterized persistent genetic abnormalities associated with autistic spectrum disorder, occurring in >1-2% of all cases of autism spectrum disorder. While the overall morphology of the brain and connectivity of neural projections appear largely normal in AS mouse models, major functional defects are detected at the level of context-dependent learning, as well as impaired maturation of hippocampal and neocortical circuits. While these findings demonstrate a crucial role for ubiquitin protein ligase E3A in synaptic development, the mechanisms by which deficiency of ubiquitin protein ligase E3A leads to AS pathophysiology in humans remain poorly understood. However, recent efforts have shown promise in restoring functions disrupted in AS mice, renewing hope that an effective treatment strategy can be found.