It is now generally accepted that mono- and bitherapy for human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection are only transiently efficient mainly due to virus drug resistance. To obtain a sustained benefit from antiviral therapy, current guidelines recommend at least triple-drug combinations, or the so-called highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). In some patients, HAART can be problematic, either because it is difficult to remain compliant or because previous suboptimum therapies have limited the choice of drugs. For compliant drug-naive patients, HAART should be able to offer long-term virus suppression, when changing from first- to second- to third-line HAART at drug failure. Long-term treatment might ultimately result in multi-drug resistant virus leaving few options for salvage therapy. HIV drug resistance testing to guide this salvage therapy and the development of new drugs to allow new options will therefore remain priorities in anti-HIV drug research.