Resistance to chemically different natural product anti-cancer drugs (multidrug resistance, or MDR) results from decreased drug accumulation, resulting from expression of one or more ATP-dependent efflux pumps. The first of these to be identified was P-glycoprotein (P-gp), the product of the human MDR1 gene, localized to chromosome 7q21. P-gp is a member of the large ATP-binding cassette (ABC) family of proteins. Although its crystallographic 3-D structure is yet to be determined, sequence analysis and comparison to other ABC family members suggest a structure consisting of two transmembrane (TM) domains, each with six TM segments, and two nucleotide-binding domains. In the epithelial cells of the gastrointestinal tract, liver, and kidney, and capillaries of the brain, testes, and ovaries, P-gp acts as a barrier to the uptake of xenobiotics, and promotes their excretion in the bile and urine. Polymorphisms in the MDR1 gene may affect the pharmacokinetics of many commonly used drugs, including anticancer drugs. Substrate recognition of many different drugs occurs within the TM domains in multiple-overlapping binding sites. We have proposed a model for how ATP energizes transfer of substrates from these binding sites on P-gp to the outside of the cell, which accounts for the apparent stoichiometry of two ATPs hydrolysed per molecule of drug transported. Understanding of the biology, genetics, and biochemistry of P-gp promises to improve the treatment of cancer and explain the pharmacokinetics of many commonly used drugs.