Manganese (Mn) is an essential trace element necessary for physiological processes that support development, growth and neuronal function. Secondary to elevated exposure or decreased excretion, Mn accumulates in the basal ganglia region of the brain and may cause a parkinsonian-like syndrome, referred to as manganism. The present review discusses the advances made in understanding the essentiality and neurotoxicity of Mn. We review occupational Mn-induced parkinsonism and the dynamic modes of Mn transport in biological systems, as well as the detection and pharmacokinetic modeling of Mn trafficking. In addition, we review some of the shared similarities, pathologic and clinical distinctions between Mn-induced parkinsonism and Parkinson's disease. Where possible, we review the influence of Mn toxicity on dopamine, gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), and glutamate neurotransmitter levels and function. We conclude with a survey of the preventive and treatment strategies for manganism and idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD).