The blood-brain barrier (BBB), the unusual microvascular endothelial interface between the central nervous system (CNS) and the circulatory system, is a major hindrance to drug delivery in the brain parenchyma. Besides the absence of fenestrations and the abundance of tight junctions, ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters critically reduce drug entry within the CNS, as they carry many drugs back into the bloodstream. Nanoparticle-and liposome-carried drugs, because of their increased cellular uptake and reduced efflux through ABC transporters, have been developed in recent times to circumvent the low drug permeability of the BBB. This review discusses the role of ABC transporters in controlling drug penetration into the brain parenchyma, the rationale for using nanoparticle-and liposome-based strategies to increase drug delivery across the BBB and new therapeutic strategies for using nanoparticle-and liposome-carried drugs in different conditions, ranging from CNS tumors and neurodegenerative diseases to viral infections and epilepsy. © 2013 Bentham Science Publishers.