Resistance to drug treatment is an important hurdle in the therapy of many brain disorders, including brain cancer, epilepsy, schizophrenia, depression and infection of the brain with HIV. Consequently, there is a pressing need to develop new and more effective treatment strategies. Mechanisms of resistance that operate in cancer and infectious diseases might also be relevant in drug-resistant brain disorders. In particular, drug efflux transporters that are expressed at the blood-brain barrier limit the ability of many drugs to access the brain. There is increasing evidence that drug efflux transporters have an important role in drug-resistant brain disorders, and this information should allow more efficacious treatment strategies to be developed.