The biomedical literature on the subject of neurotrophic growth factors has expanded prodigiously. This essay reviews neurotrophic factors (NTF) and their receptors in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Parkinson's disease (PD) brain and recent updates on receptor signaling. The hypotheses for specific NTF involvement in neurodegenerative diseases in human and as potential therapy are based mainly on experimental animal and in vitro models. There are wide gaps in information on regional synthesis and cell contents of NTFs and their receptors in human brain. Observations on AD brain indicate increases in NGF and decreases in BDNF in surviving neurons of hippocampus and certain neocortical regions and decreases in TrkA in cortex and nucleus basalis. In PD brain, the few data available indicate decreases in neuronal content of GDNF and bFGF in surviving substantia nigra dopaminergic neurons. There are very few data regarding age-dependent effects on NTFs and on their receptors in human brain. Since NTFs in neurons are subject to retrograde and, in at least some cases, to anterograde transport from and to target neurons, their effects may be related to synthesis in local or remote sites or to changes in axoplasmic transport. Also, certain NTFs and their receptors are found to be expressed in activated glia. Thus, comparative in situ data for transcription levels and protein contents for NTFs and their receptors in both sites of neuronal origin and termination in human brain are needed to understand their potential roles in treating human diseases.