The spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs) form an ever-growing group of neurodegenerative disorders causing dysfunction of the cerebellum and loss of motor control in patients. Currently, 41 different genetic causes have been identified, with each mutation affecting a different gene. Interestingly, these diverse genetic causes all disrupt cerebellar function and produce similar symptoms in patients. In order to understand the disease better, and define possible therapeutic targets for multiple SCAs, the field has been searching for common ground among the SCAs. In this review, we discuss the physiology of climbing fibers and the possibility that climbing fiber dysfunction is a point of convergence for at least a subset of SCAs. (C) 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.