The blood coagulation protein fibrinogen is deposited in the brain in a wide range of neurological diseases and traumatic injuries with blood-brain barrier (BBB) disruption. Recent research has uncovered pleiotropic roles for fibrinogen in the activation of CNS inflammation, induction of scar formation in the brain, promotion of cognitive decline and inhibition of repair. Such diverse roles are possible in part because of the unique structure of fibrinogen, which contains multiple binding sites for cellular receptors and proteins expressed in the nervous system. The cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the actions of fibrinogen are beginning to be elucidated, providing insight into its involvement in neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer disease and traumatic CNS injury. Selective drug targeting to suppress the damaging functions of fibrinogen in the nervous system without affecting its beneficial effects in haemostasis opens a new fibrinogen therapeutics pipeline for neurological disease.