Many of the motor symptoms of Parkinson disease (PD) can be preceded, sometimes for several years, by non-motor symptoms that include hyposmia, sleep disorders, depression and constipation. These non-motor features appear across the spectrum of patients with PD, including individuals with genetic causes of PD. The neuroanatomical and neuropharmacological bases of non-motor abnormalities in PD remain largely undefined. Here, we discuss recent advances that have helped to establish the presence, severity and effect on the quality of life of non-motor symptoms in PD, and the neuroanatomical and neuropharmacological mechanisms involved. We also discuss the potential for the non-motor features to define a prodrome that may enable the early diagnosis of PD.