Optic neuritis and multiple sclerosis (MS) are common causes of visual and neurologic dysfunction in young adults. Advances in magnetic resonance imaging, molecular genetics, and neuroimmunology have increased our understanding of the pathophysiology underlying both disorders. Corticosteroids remain the mainstay of treatment of optic neuritis, but alternate dosages and routes of administration are undergoing investigation. The available therapies for MS have expanded, and there is evidence that early intervention is beneficial. Treatments for MS show sustained efficacy, but are not curative, and adjunctive treatments may prove valuable in patients with progressive visual and neurologic disability.