A critical review of the role of the cerebellum in motor learning is presented. Specifically, the hypothesis that the climbing fibers that issue from the inferior olive serve to modify the responsiveness of cerebellar Purkinje cells is evaluated. It is concluded that there is no convincing evidence, at this time, to support the view that a long-term modification of Purkinje cell activity is either the basis of motor learning or an authentic mechanism of cerebellar function. An alternative view, based on the biophysical, anatomical and ensemble properties of olivary neurons, suggests an important role for the olivocerebellar system in the coordination of movements. Future work in this interesting area of neuroscience will distinguish these two hypotheses.