We have recently shown that there is a previously unsuspected link between the intracellular inclusions seen in several major chronic human degenerative diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases: the inclusions showing ubiquitin immunoreactivity. The conditions include Parkinson's disease, motor neurone disease, Alzheimer's disease, Pick's disease, and alcoholic liver disease as well as cerebellar astrocytomas and a myopathy. The inclusions found in these diseases are reported to contain intermediate filaments: neurofilaments are associated with Lewy bodies in Parkinson's disease, Pick's bodies in Pick's disease and neurofibrillary tangles in Alzheimer's disease, cytokeratins are found in Mallory bodies in alcoholic liver disease, glial fibrillary acidic proteins and vimentin are found in Rosenthal fibres in astrocytomas, and desmin is found in cytoplasmic bodies in cytoplasmic body myopathy. Therefore five classes of intermediate filaments are found in inclusions which also contain ubiquitin immunoreactivity; we have also shown that ubiquitin immunoreactivity is present in vesicles in some areas of granulovacuolar degeneration in Alzheimer's disease. Protein ubiquitination is considered a signal for extralysosomal protein degradation, (although ubiquitination may have several other important functions). We have recently shown that intermediate filaments are involved in protein sequestration before degradation by lysosomally mediated autophagy: therefore intermediate filament-containing ubiquitinated inclusions may be the hallmarks of cellular attempts to eliminate pathogenic insults by the activation of both extralysosomal and lysosomal mechanisms of intracellular protein degradation. We have recently been able to reproduce, at least in part, some of the clinical observations in tissue culture cells. Ubiquitinated protein conjugates accumulate in lysosomes in fibroblasts treated with the lysosomal cysteine protease inhibitor E-64, which may mimic aspects of granulovacuolar degeneration.