Transcription factors provide the link between early membrane-proximal signalling events and changes in gene expression. NF-kappa B is one of the best-characterized transcription factors. It is expressed ubiquitously and regulates the expression of many genes, most of which encode proteins that play an important and often determining role in the processes of immunity and inflammation. Apart from its role in these events, evidence has begun to accumulate that NF-kappa B is involved in brain function, particularly following injury and in neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's disease. NF-kappa B might also be important for viral replication in the CNS. An involvement of NF-kappa B in neuronal development is suggested from studies that demonstrate its activation in neurones in certain regions of the brain during neurogenesis. Brain-specific activators of NF-kappa B include glutamate (via both AMPA/KA and NMDA receptors) and neurotrophins, pointing to an involvement in synaptic plasticity. NF-kappa B can therefore be considered as one of the most important transcription factors characterized in brain to date and it might be as crucial for neuronal and glial cell function as it is for immune cells.