It is generally accepted that locomotion in mammals, including humans, is based on the activity of neuronal circuits within the spinal cord (the central pattern generator, CPG). Afferent information from the periphery (i.e. the limbs) influences the central pattern and, conversely, the CPG selects appropriate afferent information according to the external requirement. Both the CPG and the reflexes that mediate afferent input to the spinal cord are under the control of the brainstem. There is increasing evidence that in central motor diseases, a defective utilization of afferent input, in combination with secondary compensatory processes, is involved in typical movement disorders, such as spasticity and Parkinson's disease. Recent studies indicate a plastic behavior of the spinal neuronal circuits following a central motor lesion. This has implications for any rehabilitative therapy that should be directed to take advantage of the plasticity of the central nervous system. The significance of this research is in a better understanding of the pathophysiology underlying movement disorders and the consequences for an appropriate treatment.