Drug resistance, to date, has primarily been attributed to increased drug export or detoxification mechanisms. Despite correlations between drug export and drug resistance, it is increasingly apparent that such mechanisms cannot fully account for chemoresistance in neoplasia. It is now widely accepted that chemotherapeutic drugs kill tumour cells by inducing apoptosis, a genetically regulated cell death programme. Evidence is emerging that the exploitation of survival pathways, which may have contributed to disease development in the first instance, may also be important in the development of the chemoresistance. This review discusses the components of and associations between multiple signalling cascades and their possible contribution to the development of neoplasia and the chemoresistant phenotype.