Abstract We develop a Hamiltonian formulation of the BRST method for quantizing constrained systems. The rigid rotor is studied in detail and the similarity of this simple quantum system to a gauge theory is explicitly demonstrated. The system is quantized as a gauge theory and then the similarity between BRST and the Gupta-Bleuler approach is displayed. We also apply our formalism to true gauge theories. Both Abelian and non-Abelian gauge theories are studied in detail. Finally, the Hamiltonian treatment of the relativistic and the spinning relativistic particle is presented.