Antibiotic resistance is a problem that continues to challenge the healthcare sector. In particular, multidrug resistance is now common in familiar pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus and Mycobacterium tuberculosis, as well as emerging pathogens such as Acinetobacter baumannii. New antibiotics and new therapeutic strategies are needed to address this challenge. Advances in identifying new sources of antibiotic natural products and expanding antibiotic chemical diversity are providing chemical leads for new drugs. Inhibitors of resistance mechanisms and microbial virulence are orthogonal strategies that are also generating new chemicals that can extend the life of existing antibiotics. This new chemistry, coupled with a growing understanding of the mechanisms, origins and distribution of antibiotic resistance, position us to tackle the challenges of antibiotic resistance in the 21st century.