Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a recently introduced diagnosis. The disorder is quite common, yet often unrecognised, and leads to significant morbidity or mortality. Effective treatment often entails use of psychotropic medication. Only recently has this become apparent, and awareness of the role of drug therapy in PTSD remains limited. A number of studies have indicated efficacy for antidepressant, mood-stabilising, anticonvulsant and antianxiety medications. This review describes the role of pharmacotherapy, by examining issues of diagnosis and recognition of PTSD, the theoretical basis for drug use, goals of drug treatment, dose ranges, and clinical application of psychotropic drugs.