Very often, developmental abnormalities or subtle disturbances of neuronal function may yield brain diseases even if they become obvious only late in life. It is therefore our intention to highlight fundamental mechanisms of neuronal cell biology with a special emphasis on dendritic mRNA localization including local protein synthesis at the activated synapse. Furthermore, we would like to point out possible links to neuronal or synaptic dysfunction. In particular, we will focus on a series of well-known RNA-binding proteins that are involved in these processes and outline how their dysfunction might yield neurodevelopmental, neurodegenerative or neuropsychiatric disorders. We are convinced that increasing our understanding of RNA biology in general and the mechanisms underlying mRNA transport and subsequent translation at the synapse will ultimately generate important novel RNA-based tools in the near future that will allow us to hopefully treat some of these devastating diseases.