Following European settlement of Australia, numerous plant species were deliberately introduced for use in crops, pastures, gardens and horticulture, and others arrived by chance. Many subsequently escaped and became weedy. Of the 54 weed species of natural environments of arid and semi-arid Australia that are considered here, 27 were apparently accidentally introduced, 20 were intentionally introduced and 7 were probably introduced both accidentally and intentionally. Livestock including camels and their harness, and contaminated seed and hay were the most common vectors for accidental introduction. Amongst intentional introductions, rather more ornamental species appear to have invaded successfully than pasture species, but the former generally occupy niche habitats. Recent new introductions are few due to pre-border, border and post-border protections, but many current arid zone weeds continue to spread. Understanding the history of weed invasions can help to guide current and future management by clarifying pathways for introduction.