Triple negative breast cancers (TNBCs) are defined by the lack of estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 expression, and are treated with cytotoxic chemotherapy such as paclitaxel or gemcitabine, with a durable response rate of less than 20%. TNBCs are enriched for the basal subtype gene expression profile and the presence of breast cancer stem cells, which are endowed with self-renewing and tumor-initiating properties and resistance to chemotherapy. Hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) and their target gene products are highly active in TNBCs. Here, we demonstrate that HIF expression and transcriptional activity are induced by treatment of MDA-MB-231, SUM-149, and SUM-159, which are human TNBC cell lines, as well as MCF-7, which is an ER(+)/PR(+) breast cancer line, with paclitaxel or gemcitabine. Chemotherapy-induced HIF activity enriched the breast cancer stem cell population through interleukin-6 and interleukin-8 signaling and increased expression of multidrug resistance 1. Coadministration of HIF inhibitors overcame the resistance of breast cancer stem cells to paclitaxel or gemcitabine, both in vitro and in vivo, leading to tumor eradication. Increased expression of HIF-1α or HIF target genes in breast cancer biopsies was associated with decreased overall survival, particularly in patients with basal subtype tumors and those treated with chemotherapy alone. Based on these results, clinical trials are warranted to test whether treatment of patients with TNBC with a combination of cytotoxic chemotherapy and HIF inhibitors will improve patient survival.