The role of the gut microbiota in health and disease is becoming increasingly recognized. The microbiota-gut-brain axis is a bi-directional pathway between the brain and the gastrointestinal system. The bacterial commensals in our gut can signal to the brain through a variety of mechanisms, which are slowly being resolved. These include the vagus nerve, immune mediators and microbial metabolites, which influence central processes such as neurotransmission and behaviour. Dysregulation in the composition of the gut microbiota has been identified in several neuropsychiatric disorders, such as autism, schizophrenia and depression. Moreover, preclinical studies suggest that they may be the driving force behind the behavioural abnormalities observed in these conditions. Understanding how bacterial commensals are involved in regulating brain function may lead to novel strategies for development of microbiota-based therapies for these neuropsychiatric disorders.