In order to implement full support for the NTFS file system, you will need to install third-party software. While Apple allows you to read NTFS drives on Macs, the ability to both write to these drives and format drives for NTFS are not included in OS X. NTFS-3G is one popular option for managing NTFS partitions in OS X; however, if you have had it installed you may run into an issue where Disk Utility will give you an error when you try to format a drive to NTFS.
Specifically, the system will mention the "File system formatter failed," with no clear information on what exactly why it failed. Unfortunately this is the nature with many errors, but if this is happening in NTFS-3G, you are probably running the older version of the software. A few weeks ago, an update to NTFS-3G was released that specifically addresses this issue, in addition to fixing an issue where NTFS drives handled by NTFS-3G were not mountable in Windows 7.
The latest version of NTFS-3G can be found here: http://macntfs-3g.blogspot.com/
Be sure you download the one titled "NTFS-3G for Mac OS X 2010.1.16," since the site also distributes updates to the commercial version of the driver, which is developed by Tuxera. If you install the Tuxera driver you will end up with two NTFS file system drivers. This should not hurt anything per se, but it can result in confusion as to what driver is being used. For instance, if you accidentally install the Tuxera version and then select the "NTFS-3G" driver to use for formatting, the system will claim the disk was formatted with the Tuxera driver. The only potential drawback for using the Tuxera driver is you need to purchase a license if you continue to use it after 15 days.
Why would you want to format a drive using NTFS-3G? While by far the more compatible and stable method for formatting a drive to NTFS would be to use a Windows computer or Windows installation (i.e., Virtualization or Boot Camp), periodically you may have a small portable drive that needs to be quickly formatted for use with Windows before transferring files to it, and while FAT partitions are better supported in OS X, FAT is an old format.