Since the early 1930s, physicians have developed and refined various surgical therapies for the treatment of Parkinson's disease. In this review we examine some of the problems associated with early surgical therapies, the development of new techniques and targets, and the results of clinical trials examining the safety and efficacy of these techniques. Ablative techniques include pallidotomy, thalamotomy, and, more recently, subthalamotomy. Because of concern over the high incidence of side-effects associated with bilateral ablative procedures, alternative approaches were explored. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) was subsequently developed and successfully applied in the internal globus pallidus, subthalamic nucleus, and thalamus for the treatment of Parkinson's disease. Recent approaches include biological neurorestorative techniques - surgical therapies with transplantation, gene therapy, and growth factors are all being studied. Although a great deal of work remains to be done, advances in surgical therapies for the treatment of Parkinson's disease are moving forward at an unprecedented pace.