The first gene to be linked to Parkinson's disease encodes the neuronal protein α-synuclein. Recent mouse and Drosophila models of Parkinson's disease support a central role for the process of α-synuclein fibrillization in pathogenesis. However, some evidence indicates that the fibril itself may not be the pathogenic species. Our own biophysical studies suggest that a structured fibrillization intermediate or an alternatively assembled oligomer maybe responsible for neuronal death. This speculation can now be experimentally tested in the animal models. Such experiments will have implications for the development of new therapies for Parkinson's disease and related neurodegenerative diseases.