Since the rediscovery of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) about 10 years ago, interest in tDCS has grown exponentially. A noninvasive stimulation technique that induces robust excitability changes within the stimulated cortex, tDCS is increasingly being used in proof-of-principle and stage IIa clinical trials in a wide range of neurological and psychiatric disorders. Alongside these clinical studies, detailed work has been performed to elucidate the mechanisms underlying the observed effects. In this review, the authors bring together the results from these pharmacological, neurophysiological, and imaging studies to describe their current knowledge of the physiological effects of tDCS. In addition, the theoretical framework for how tDCS affects motor learning is proposed.