Abstract The microbeam synchrotron radiation X-ray fluorescence technique (micro-SRXRF) was applied to topographic and quantitative elemental analysis of human spinal cord tissue sections. The feasibility of this technique for the determination of elemental abnormalities caused by neurodegenerative disorder, i.e. amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), was verified. The applied measurement conditions allowed detecting: P, S, Cl, K, Ca, Fe, Cu, Zn and Br in thin tissue slices. Two-dimensional maps of the elemental distribution were recorded. Quantitative differences in elemental concentration between gray matter, nerve cells and white matter were observed for all analyzed cases. For the motor neuron bodies higher accumulation of S, Cl, K, Fe, Zn and Br was noticed. The results showed significant differences of elemental accumulation between the analyzed ALS cases. Moreover, the feasibility of using tissue sections fixed and embedded in paraffin for micro-SRXRF analysis was tested. These studies were performed on the samples of rat brain.