Brevetoxin A is the most potent neurotoxin secreted by Gymnodinium breve Davis, a marine organism often associated with harmful algal blooms known as 'red tides'. The compound, whose mechanism of action involves binding to and opening of sodium channels, is sufficiently toxic to kill fish at concentrations of nanograms per ml and, after accumulation in filter-feeding shellfish, to poison human consumers. The precise pathway by which nature constructs brevetoxin A is at present unknown, but strategies for its total synthesis have been contemplated for some time. The synthetic challenge posed by brevetoxin A reflects the high complexity of its molecular structure: 10 oxygen atoms and a chain of 44 carbon atoms are woven into a polycyclic macromolecule that includes 10 rings (containing between 5 and 9 atoms) and 22 stereogenic centres. Particularly challenging are the 7-, 8- and 9-membered rings which allow the molecule to undergo slow conformational changes and force a 90 degrees twist at one of its rings. Here we describe the successful incorporation of methods that were specifically developed for the construction of these rings into an overall strategy for the total synthesis of brevetoxin A in its naturally occurring form. The convergent synthesis reported here renders this scarce neurotoxin synthetically available and, more importantly, allows the design and synthesis of analogues for further biochemical studies.