Over the decades, various studies have established an association between accumulation of iron and both aging and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Excess levels of iron can lead to increased oxidative stress through Fenton chemistry, and depletion of iron can similarly have deleterious effects. In addition, metal ions are known to be involved in both Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease protein aggregation. Metal ion chelators have been extensively investigated in preclinical models, and may prove to be appropriate for modulating brain iron levels in age-related neurodegenerative disorders. Investigating age-related iron deposition is vital, and can possibly aid in determining at-risk groups and diagnosing neurodegenerative diseases at an early stage. Novel imaging methods have enabled researchers to examine iron deposition in vivo, and offer a noninvasive method of monitoring the progression of accumulation, and possible therapeutic effects of chelating compounds. © 2012 Expert Reviews Ltd.