Brown managed PNE for 11 months in 2011, taking over a struggling team and was unable to prevent them being relegated from the Championship.
After a bright start to life in League One under Brown, North End dropped off the pace and he was dismissed in December 2011.
Barrow moved to secure his services over the weekend after sacking Mark Cooper in the aftermath of a 2-1 defeat to Cumbrian rivals Carlisle United.
Brown will be assisted by Holker Street by former PNE midfielder Neil McDonald who lives in Preston.
McDonald, who played for Preston in the mid-90s, had a spell as Barrow’s assistant manager last season.
Barrow are currently in 21st place in League Two, six points clear of the relegation zone.
This is their second season back in the EFL and Brown will be the fourth permanent manager in that time.
Prior to managing North End, Brown was in charge at Derby County and Hull City, guiding Hull into the Premier League in May 2008.
He succeeded Darren Ferguson at Deepdale but took 13 games to get his first win.
Since leaving PNE, Brown has managed Southend United twice, Swindon Town and Indian Super League side Hyderabad.
It was in April last year that he took the Southend job for the second time as they battled against relegation for League Two.
He was unable to keep the Shrimpers up but landed a two-year contract. However, he was sacked last October with Southend in 20th place in the National League.