Northeast Brazil (NEB) is usually affected by droughts, most of them connected with El Niño. In this context, the aim of this study is to investigate and update the different dynamical aspects of atmosphere and surface ocean associated with the recent strong El Niño events (1982-1983, 1997-1998, and 2015-2016) and their effects on rainfall over NEB. Here, we show that dry years were observed in NEB during all strong El Niño events analyzed. By analyzing the spatial distribution of rainfall in the wet season (February-May), we found that the highest water deficits were observed in northern Northeast Brazil (NNEB), with the most intense anomalies occurring during the 1982-1983 and 1997-1998 events. These anomalies were associated mainly with the distribution of sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies that during the 1982-1983 and 1997-1998 events presented stronger warming in the eastern Pacific, while in 2015-2016 occurred in the western and central equatorial Pacific. These oceanic conditions modulated the atmospheric circulation pattern and led to three different dynamical aspects. Thus, the drought of 1982-1983 was attributed to strong subsidence caused by the Walker and Hadley cells, while in 1997-1998, in addition to this subsidence, the anomalous 200 hPa cyclone near NNEB also caused sinking motion. In 2015-2016, combined with the subsidence induced by the Walker and Hadley cells, an atmospheric pattern similar to the Pacific-South American/South Pacific Convergence Zone seems to have contributed to intensification of downward motion over NEB, indicating an influence of Rossby wave train.