Following creation of the 2010 Biodiversity Target under the Convention on Biological Diversity and adoption of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, information on status and trends of biodiversity at the national level has become increasingly important to both science and policy. National red lists (NRLs) of threatened species may provide suitable data for reporting on progress toward these goals and for informing national conservation priority setting. This information will also become increasingly important for developing species- and ecosystem-based strategies for climate change adaptation. We conducted a thorough global review of NRLs in 109 countries and analyzed gaps in NRL coverage in terms of geography and taxonomy to determine priority regions and taxonomic groups for further investment. We then examined correlations between the NRL data set and gross domestic product (GDP) and vertebrate species richness. The largest geographic gap was in Oceania, followed by middle Africa, the Caribbean, and western Africa, whereas the largest taxonomic gaps were for invertebrates, fungi, and lichens. The comprehensiveness of NRL coverage within a given country was positively correlated with GDP and negatively correlated with total vertebrate richness and threatened vertebrate richness. This supports the assertion that regions with the greatest and most vulnerable biodiversity receive the least conservation attention and indicates that financial resources may be an integral limitation. To improve coverage of NRLs, we propose a combination of projects that target underrepresented taxa or regions and projects that provide the means for countries to create or update NRLs on their own. We recommend improvements in knowledge transfer within and across regions as a priority for future investment.