A growing body of evidence suggests oxidative stress involvement in neurodegenerative diseases; however, it remains to be determined whether oxidative stress is a cause, result, or epiphenomenon of the pathological processes. This review concerns the current issue, focusing on Alzheimer disease (AD), Parkinson disease (PD), and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Several studies have indicated that oxidative stress initially occurs in the disease-specific, site-restricted sources such as amyloid-beta in the cerebral cortex of AD brain, alpha-synuclein in the brain stem of PD brain, and glutamate receptor-coupled Ca2+ channel in the motor system of ALS spinal cord. Subsequent events in the neurons common to these diseases are glutamate-induced neurotoxicity and increased cytosolic Ca2+ levels, resulting in activation of Ca2+ -dependent enzymes including NADPH oxidase, cytosolic phospholipase A2, xanthine oxidase, and neuronal nitric oxide synthase (NOS). These enzymes produce reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (ROS/RNS), which oxidatively modify nucleic acid, lipid, sugar, and protein, leading to nuclear damage, mitochondrial damage, proteasome inhibition, and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. Mitochondrial damage results in both ROS leakage from the electron transport system and Ca2+ release. Nuclear damage induces p53 activation, and proteasome inhibition reduces p53 degradation. The resultant increased p53 levels in the nucleus induce Bax activation and Bcl-2 inhibition, followed by a release of cytochrome c into the cytosol that truncates procaspase-9. ER stress triggers activation of caspase-12 as well as caspase-9 via the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptor-associated factor-2 / apoptosis-signaling kinase-1 / c-Jun N-terminal kinase pathway. Oxidative stress also stimulates astrocytes and microglia to yield and secrete cytokines such as TNFa and FasL that cause not only neuronal caspase-8 activation but also glial inflammatory response through induction of nuclear factor-kappaB-mediated, proinflammatory gene products including cytokines, chemokines, growth factors, cell adhesion molecules, and ROS/RNS-producing enzymes. The activated caspases truncate procaspase-3 to exert classical apoptosis. Moreover, oxidative DNA damage leads to the release and nuclear truncation of mitochondrial apoptosis-inducing kinase, which triggers apoptosis-like programmed cell death via cyclophilin A. These observations could indicate crucial implications for oxidative stress in several steps of the pathomechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases.