Parkinson's disease (PD) is an age-related movement disorder resulting, in part, from selective loss of dopaminergic neurons. Both invertebrate and mammalian models have been developed to study the cellular mechanisms altered during disease progression; nevertheless there are limitations within each model. Mammalian models remain invaluable in studying PD, but are expensive and time consuming. Here, we review genetic and environmental factors associated with PD, and describe how the nematode roundworm, Caenorhabditis elegans, has been used as a model organism for studying various aspects of this neurodegenerative disease. Both genetic and chemical screens have been conducted in C. elegans to identify molecular pathways, proteins, and small molecules that can impact PD pathology. Lastly, we highlight future areas of investigation, in the context of emerging fields in biology, where the nematode can be exploited to provide mechanistic insights and potential strategies to accelerate the path toward possible therapeutic intervention for PD. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.