Using Parkinson's disease as a prototype of neurodegenerative diseases, we propose applications of human stem cells in the development of therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases. First, in vitro differentiation of human stem cells offers a versatile model for dissecting molecular interactions underlying human dopamine (DA) neuron specification, which may form a foundation for instigating regeneration of DA neurons from progenitors that reside in the brain. Second, stem cells derived from diseased cells or through genetic modification can serve as a platform for unraveling biochemical processes that lead to the cellular pathogenesis of degeneration. This may in turn serve as a template for identifying or developing therapeutics for slowing, stopping, or reversing the disease process. And finally, stem cells, particularly those induced from patients' own cells, provide a reliable source of DA neurons for cell-based therapy. J. Cell. Biochem. 105: 1153–1160, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.