A quarter of a century ago, we proposed an innovative approach to study the pathogenesis of prion disease, one of the most intriguing biomedical problems that remains unresolved. The synthesis of a peptide homologous to residues 106-126 of the human prion protein (PrP106-126), a sequence present in the PrP amyloid protein of Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker syndrome patients, provided a tractable tool for investigating the mechanisms of neurotoxicity. Together with several other discoveries at the beginning of the 1990s, PrP106-126 contributed to underpin the role of amyloid in the pathogenesis of protein-misfolding neurodegenerative disorders. Later, the role of oligomers on one hand and of prion-like spreading of pathology on the other further clarified mechanisms shared by different neurodegenerative conditions. Our original report on PrP106-126 neurotoxicity also highlighted a role for programmed cell death in CNS diseases. In this review, we analyse the prion research context in which PrP106-126 first appeared and the advances in our understanding of prion disease pathogenesis and therapeutic perspectives 25 years later.