The incidence of physical disability in the community resulting from neurological dysfunction is predicted to increase in the coming years. The impetus for immediate and critical evaluation of physical neurorehabilitation strategies stems from the largely incomplete recovery following neurological damage, questionable efficacy of individual rehabilitation techniques, and the progressive acceptance of evidence-based medicine. The emergent technologies of non-invasive brain stimulation (NBS) and rehabilitation robotics enable a better understanding of the recovery process, as well as the mechanisms and effectiveness of intervention. With a more precise grasp of the relationship between dysfunctional and treatment-related plasticity, we can anticipate a move toward highly controlled and individualised prescription of rehabilitation. Both robotics and NBS can also be used to enhance motor control and learning in patients with neurological dysfunction. The merit of these contemporary methods as investigative and rehabilitation tools requires clarification and discussion. In this thematic series, five cohesive and eloquent papers address this issue from leading clinicians and scientists in the fields of robotics, NBS, plasticity and motor learning.