We discuss the pathologic diagnostic criteria and review the major new advances related to seeking the pathogenic mechanism of sporadic inclusion-body myositis (s-IBM) and hereditary inclusion-body myopathy (h-IBM). A classification of the various h-IBM syndromes is also presented. The several forms of the h-IBMs have different genetic transmissions and probably different genetic defects. In neither s-IBM nor the h-IBMs are the sequential steps of the pathogenic cascade understood. Because s-IBM and the h-IBMs have a number of characteristic pathologic features in common, we postulate that their different causes trigger the same upstream aberration leading to a similar downstream cascade of pathologic events, which are ultimately responsible for the characteristic muscle-fiber degeneration. Muscle-biopsy and experimental evidence is given supporting our hypothesis that overexpression of beta-amyloid precursor protein within abnormal muscle fibers is an early upstream event causing the pathogenic cascade. We also present evidence supporting our concept that muscle aging and oxidative stress are important factors contributing to the s-IBM-specific muscle fiber destruction. Additionally, the intriguing parallels between the pathologic phenotype of IBM muscle fibers and Alzheimer's disease brain are summarized.