Dominant mutations in five tRNA synthetases cause Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) neuropathy, suggesting that altered aminoacylation function underlies the disease. However, previous studies showed that loss of aminoacylation activity is not required to cause CMT. Here we present a Drosophila model for CMT with mutations in glycyl-tRNA synthetase (GARS). Expression of three CMT-mutant GARS proteins induces defects in motor performance and motor and sensory neuron morphology, and shortens lifespan. Mutant GARS proteins display normal subcellular localization but markedly reduce global protein synthesis in motor and sensory neurons, or when ubiquitously expressed in adults, as revealed by FUNCAT and BONCAT. Translational slowdown is not attributable to altered tRNA(Gly) aminoacylation, and cannot be rescued by Drosophila Gars overexpression, indicating a gain-of-toxic-function mechanism. Expression of CMT-mutant tyrosyl-tRNA synthetase also impairs translation, suggesting a common pathogenic mechanism. Finally, genetic reduction of translation is sufficient to induce CMT-like phenotypes, indicating a causal contribution of translational slowdown to CMT.