Antimicrobial resistance is one of the biggest challenges facing global public health. Although antimicrobial drugs have saved many lives and eased the suffering of many millions, poverty, ignorance, poor sanitation, hunger and malnutrition, inadequate access to drugs, poor and inadequate health care systems, civil conflicts and bad governance in developing countries have tremendously limited the benefits of these drugs in controlling infectious diseases. The development of resistance in the responsible pathogens has worsened the situation often with very little resource to investigate and provide reliable susceptibility data on which rational treatments can be based as well as means to optimise the use of antimicrobial agents. The emergence of multi-drug-resistant isolates in tuberculosis, acute respiratory infections and diarrhoea, often referred to as diseases of poverty, has had its greatest toll in developing countries. The epidemic of HIV/AIDS, with over 30 million cases in developing countries, has greatly enlarged the population of immunocompromised patients. The disease has left these patients at great risk of numerous infections and even greater risks of acquiring highly resistant organisms during long periods of hospitalisation. This review discusses antimicrobial resistance in developing countries and the risk factors responsible.