In recent years, the number of emergent plant pathogens (EPPs) has grown substantially, threatening agroecosystem stability and native biodiversity. Contributing factors include, among others, shifts in biogeography, with EPP spread facilitated by the global unification of monocultures in modern agriculture, high volumes of trade in plants and plant products and an increase in sexual recombination within pathogen populations. The unpredictable nature of EPPs as they move into new territories, is a situation that has led to sudden and widespread epidemics. Understanding the underlying causes of pathogen emergence is key to managing the impact of EPPs. Here, we review some factors specifically influencing the emergence of oomycete and fungal EPPs, including new introductions through anthropogenic movement, natural dispersal, and weather events, as well as genetic factors linked to shifts in host range.