Some of the finest minds in the field of Caenorhabditis elegans neurobiology were brought together from 14 June to 17 June 2012 in the small, quaint and picturesque German city of Heidelberg for the biannual C. elegans neurobiology conference. Held at the EMBL Advanced Training Centre and wonderfully organised by Diah Yulianti, Jean-Louis Bessereau, Gert Jansen and William Schafer, the meeting contained 62 verbal presentations and hundreds of posters that were displayed around the double-helical walkways that looped throughout the conference centre. Presentations on recent advances in microfluidics, cell ablation and targeted gene expression exemplified the strengths of C. elegans as a model organism, with these advances allowing detailed high-throughput analysis and study. Interesting behaviours that were previously poorly characterised were widely discussed, as were the advantages of C. elegans as a model for neurodevelopment and neurodegeneration and the investigation of neuropeptide function. The examples discussed in this meeting report seek to illustrate the breadth and depth of presentations given on these recurring topics.