Movement disorders are typically perceived as being gradually progressive conditions that are managed in outpatient settings. However, they may manifest de novo with an acute severe phenotype or an acute decompensation. A movement disorder becomes an emergency when it evolves acutely or subacutely over hours to days; delays in its diagnosis and treatment may cause significant morbidity and mortality. Here we address the clinical presentation, diagnosis and management of those movement disorder emergencies that are principally encountered in emergency departments, in acute receiving units or in intensive care units. We provide practical guidance for management in the acute setting where there are several treatable causes not to be missed. The suggested medication doses are predominantly based on expert opinion due to limited higher-level evidence. In spite of the rarity of movement disorder emergencies, neurologists need to be familiar with the phenomenology, potential causes and treatments of these conditions. Movement disorder emergencies divide broadly into two groups: hypokinetic and hyperkinetic, categorised according to their phenomenology. Most acute presentations are hyperkinetic and some are mixed.