The extracellular matrix (ECM) is a substrate upon which cells migrate, proliferate and differentiate. It is involved in the maintenance of cytoarchitecture, regulation of homeostasis, and it influences interactions between cells and molecules via specific receptors. Although a substantial body of knowledge has accumulated concerning the role of the ECM in peripheral tissues, little is known of the structure and function of the ECM in the CNS. However, marked changes in the expression of ECM constituents have been documented in various neurological disorders, including multiple sclerosis. This review focuses on the structure and function of the ECM in the CNS and in particular on the occurrence and involvement of ECM changes in the pathology of multiple sclerosis. Increased knowledge of the expression and functional role of ECM proteins in the CNS can lead to a better understanding of complex neurobiological processes both under normal as well as pathological conditions.