Traditionally, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is considered to be a unique neurodegeneration disorder in which motor neurons are selectively vulnerable to a single disease process. Our current understanding of ALS, however, suggests that this is far too limited an approach. While motor neuron degeneration remains the central component to this process, there is considerable phenotypic variability including broad ranges in survivorship and the presence or absence of cognitive impairment. The number of familial variants of ALS for which unique genetic linkage has been identified is increasing, attesting further to the biological heterogeneity of the disorder. At the cellular level, derangements in cytoskeletal protein and glutamate metabolism, mitochondrial function, and in glial interactions are clearly evident. When considered in this fashion, ALS can be justifiably considered a disorder of multiple biological processes sharing in common the degeneration of motor neurons.