In a time of increasing urbanization, the fundamental value of conserving urban biodiversity remains controversial. How much of a fixed budget should be spent on conservation in urban versus nonurban landscapes? The answer should depend on the goals that drive our conservation actions, yet proponents of urban conservation often fail to specify the motivation for protecting urban biodiversity. This is an important shortcoming on several fronts, including a missed opportunity to make a stronger appeal to those who believe conservation biology should focus exclusively on more natural, wilder landscapes. We argue that urban areas do offer an important venue for conservation biology, but that we must become better at choosing and articulating our goals. We explored seven possible motivations for urban biodiversity conservation: preserving local biodiversity, creating stepping stones to nonurban habitat, understanding and facilitating responses to environmental change, conducting environmental education, providing ecosystem services, fulfilling ethical responsibilities, and improving human well-being. To attain all these goals, challenges must be faced that are common to the urban environment, such as localized pollution, disruption of ecosystem structure, and limited availability of land. There are, however, also challenges specific only to particular goals, meaning that different goals will require different approaches and actions. This highlights the importance of specifying the motivations behind urban biodiversity conservation. If the goals are unknown, progress cannot be assessed.