Over the past decade, considerable advances have been made in understanding the molecular mechanisms that underpin the arms race between plant pathogens and their hosts. Alongside genomic, bioinformatic, proteomic, biochemical and cell biological analyses of plant-pathogen interactions, three-dimensional structural studies of virulence proteins deployed by pathogens to promote infection, in some cases complexed with their plant cell targets, have uncovered key insights into the functions of these molecules. Structural information on plant immune receptors, which regulate the response to pathogen attack, is also starting to emerge. Structural studies of bacterial plant pathogen-host systems have been leading the way, but studies of filamentous plant pathogens are gathering pace. In this Review, we summarize the key developments in the structural biology of plant pathogen-host interactions.