The acronym BRIC was coined in 2001 by Jim O'Neill, a senior executive at Goldman Sachs, to denote four emerging national economies: Brazil, the Russian Federation, India and China. The acronym was subsequently extended – to BRICS – to include South Africa. Together, the nations in the BRICS group, which are widely considered to represent the most important emerging economies, hold approximately 40% of the world's population. Although BRICS and other multinational groupings may be useful to policy-makers involved in the development of some foreign policies, it remains unclear if such groupings have a role in the study and development of global health policy. We examine the debate around this issue and focus on the potential role of BRICS in the promotion of universal health coverage – an "umbrella" goal for health in the post-2015 development framework.