Since 1996, the Brazilian Ministry of Health has guaranteed free and universal access to antiretroviral treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS. Implementation of this policy has had political, financial, and logistical challenges. I have investigated the history and context of antiretroviral policy in Brazil, the logistics of the drugs' distribution, and the government's strategies for acquisition of the drugs. Many antiretrovirals used in Brazil are produced domestically; the remainder, including some of the most expensive drugs, are purchased from abroad. Although the Brazilian policy of antiretroviral distribution has had notable success, it remains threatened by the high cost of acquisition of drugs, which has led to disputes with international pharmaceutical companies over prices and patents. Whether or not the Brazilian model of guaranteeing access to antiretroviral treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS can be applied in other countries or regions, much can be learnt from the country's experience.