Infections that cause significant nervous system morbidity globally include viral (for example, HIV, rabies, Japanese encephalitis virus, herpes simplex virus, varicella zoster virus, cytomegalovirus, dengue virus and chikungunya virus), bacterial (for example, tuberculosis, syphilis, bacterial meningitis and sepsis), fungal (for example, cryptococcal meningitis) and parasitic (for example, malaria, neurocysticercosis, neuroschistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminths) infections. The neurological, cognitive, behavioural or mental health problems caused by the infections probably affect millions of children and adults in low- and middle-income countries. However, precise estimates of morbidity are lacking for most infections, and there is limited information on the pathogenesis of nervous system injury in these infections. Key research priorities for infection-related nervous system morbidity include accurate estimates of disease burden; point-of-care assays for infection diagnosis; improved tools for the assessment of neurological, cognitive and mental health impairment; vaccines and other interventions for preventing infections; improved understanding of the pathogenesis of nervous system disease in these infections; more effective methods to treat and prevent nervous system sequelae; operations research to implement known effective interventions; and improved methods of rehabilitation. Research in these areas, accompanied by efforts to implement promising technologies and therapies, could substantially decrease the morbidity and mortality of infections affecting the nervous system in low- and middle-income countries.