Breast cancer, the most common form of cancer among women in North America and almost all of Europe, is a significant health problem in terms of both morbidity and mortality. It is estimated that each year this disease is diagnosed in over one million people worldwide and is the cause of more than 400,000 deaths. Although chemotherapy forms part of a successful treatment regime in many cases, as few as 50% patients may benefit from this, as a result of intrinsic or acquired multiple drug resistance (MDR). Through the use of in vitro cell culture models, a number of mechanisms of MDR have been identified; many, if not all, of which may contribute to breast cancer resistance in the clinical setting. This phenomenon is complicated by the likely multi-factorial nature of clinical resistance combined with the fact that, although apparently studied extensively in breast cancer, reported analyses have been performed using a range of analytical techniques; many on small sub-groups of patients, with different clinicopathological characteristics and receiving a range of therapeutic approaches. Larger defined studies, using standardised genomic and proteomics profiling approaches followed by functional genomics studies, are necessary in order to definitively establish the degree of complexity contributing to drug resistance and to identify novel therapeutic approaches - possibly involving chemotherapy, drug resistance modulators, and novel targeted therapies - to combat this disease.