Extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) is a versatile protein kinase that regulates many cellular functions. Growing evidence suggests that ERK1/2 plays a crucial role in promoting cell death in a variety of neuronal systems, including neurodegenerative diseases. It is believed that the magnitude and the duration of ERK1/2 activity determine its cellular function. In this review, we summarize recent evidence for a role of ERK1/2 in neuronal death. Furthermore, we discuss the mechanisms involved in ERK1/2 mediating neuronal death.