Implantable neural interfaces are important tools to accelerate neuroscience research and translate clinical neurotechnologies. The promise of a bidirectional communication link between the nervous system of humans and computers is compelling, yet important materials challenges must be first addressed to improve the reliability of implantable neural interfaces. This perspective highlights recent progress and challenges related to arguably two of the most common failure modes for implantable neural interfaces: (1) compromised barrier layers and packaging leading to failure of electronic components; (2) encapsulation and rejection of the implant due to injurious tissue–biomaterials interactions, which erode the quality and bandwidth of signals across the biology–technology interface. Innovative materials and device design concepts could address these failure modes to improve device performance and broaden the translational prospects of neural interfaces. A brief overview of contemporary neural interfaces is presented and followed by recent progress in chemistry, materials, and fabrication techniques to improve in vivo reliability, including novel barrier materials and harmonizing the various incongruences of the tissue–device interface. Challenges and opportunities related to the clinical translation of neural interfaces are also discussed.