Brunette grew up in the small community of Valley East, Ontario just outside Sudbury. He played much of his minor hockey career with the Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats of the NOHA.
After a solid Midget season in 1989-90, Brunette was selected in the 7th round of the 1990 OHL Priority Selection by the Owen Sound Platers. He was an OHL teammate of future NHLers Kirk Maltby, Scott Walker, Kevin Weekes and Jamie Storr.
Brunette debuted in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) playing for the Owen Sound Platers for three seasons between 1990 and 1993 and scored 295 points in 195 games, winning the Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy, the scoring title, in 1993. He was drafted by the Washington Capitals in the seventh round, 174th overall, in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft.
After being drafted, he played for the Hampton Roads Admirals in the ECHL, before moving to the American Hockey League (AHL), where he played for two more teams that season: Providence Bruins and Portland Pirates. Brunette stayed with the Pirates until 1998, but was called up by the Capitals for the first time in the 1995–96 NHL season and played 11 games. Over the following few seasons, he played 51 more games for Washington before being selected in the 1998 NHL Expansion Draft by new franchise Nashville Predators. He also scored the first goal for the Nashville Predators.
After playing in the inaugural 1998–99 season for the Predators, he moved to the newly created Atlanta Thrashers and played two seasons there before moving to the Minnesota Wild in the 2001–02 NHL season. He scored the final goal on Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy of the Colorado Avalanche in overtime of game 7 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals on April 22, 2003. Brunette stayed with the Wild until 2004 and signed as a free agent for the Colorado Avalanche after the 2004–05 lockout.
He scored the series-clinching goal for the Colorado Avalanche on April 30, 2006, against the Dallas Stars in game 5 of the 2006 Western Conference Quarterfinals. The 2006–07 was his best individual season, averaging over a point per game for his first time in the NHL, playing on a line with superstar centre Joe Sakic. Andrew Brunette scored his 500th NHL career point on October 26, 2007 against the Calgary Flames. Brunette played three consecutive full 82 game seasons with the Avalanche.
Brunette signed a 3-year, $7-million deal with the Minnesota Wild on July 1, 2008 to begin a second stint with the Wild.
Brunette was highly regarded for his physical durability and consistency, qualities which allowed him to play in 509 consecutive games without having to sit out due to injury from 2002 to 2009. Brunette was diagnosed with a torn ACL in his right knee but insisted on playing out the 2008–09 season, before having surgery in the offseason.
He signed a one-year contract worth $2 million with the Chicago Blackhawks on July 1, 2011. During the 2011–12 season Brunette, in a reduced role, recorded a career low in points with 27 in 78 games.
With the NHL lockout and limited NHL interest as a Free Agent upon the resumption of the shortened 2012–13 season, on February 13, 2013, Brunette announced his retirement in taking up the position of Hockey Operations Advisor to the Minnesota Wild.