Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (bdnf) is one of numerous gene products necessary for long-term memory formation and dysregulation of bdnf has been implicated in the pathogenesis of cognitive and mental disorders. Recent work indicates that epigenetic-regulatory mechanisms including the markings of histone proteins and associated DNA remain labile throughout the life-span and represent an attractive molecular process contributing to gene regulation in the brain. In this review, important information will be discussed on epigenetics as a set of newly identified dynamic transcriptional mechanisms serving to regulate gene expression changes in the adult brain with particular emphasis on bdnf transcriptional readout in learning and memory formation. This review will also highlight evidence for the role of epigenetics in aberrant bdnf gene regulation in the pathogenesis of cognitive dysfunction associated with seizure disorders, Rett syndrome, Schizophrenia, and Alzheimer's disease. Such research offers novel concepts for understanding epigenetic transcriptional mechanisms subserving adult cognition and mental health, and furthermore promises novel avenues for therapeutic approach in the clinic. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.