Recurrent episodes of transient focal neurologic symptoms, known as aura, occur in association with migraine headache in about 11.9 million people in the United States. At present, the International Headache Society has recognized 3 "typical" auras: visual, sensory, and language. Increasing evidence from investigations in human subjects suggests that typical auras may be the clinical manifestation of a cortical spreading depression (CSD)-like phenomenon. Other studies have shown altered reactivity and processing within the cortices of migraineurs who experience an aura, which might render them more vulnerable to CSD-like events. Recent investigations also support the hypothesis that events intrinsic to the cerebral cortex are capable of activating trigeminal nociceptive neurons and of affecting the caliber of vascular structures innervated by them. A better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the aura may potentially lead to more effective therapies, which will aim at preventing migraine headaches before they start.