Microbial pathogens and pests of animals and plants secrete effector proteins into host cells, altering cellular physiology to the benefit of the invading parasite. Research in the past decade has delivered significant new insights into the molecular mechanisms of how these effector proteins function, with a particular focus on modulation of host immunity-related pathways. One host system that has emerged as a common target of effectors is the ubiquitination system in which substrate proteins are post-translationally modified by covalent conjugation with the small protein ubiquitin. This modification, typically via isopeptide bond formation through a lysine side-chain of ubiquitin, can result in target degradation, re-localisation, altered activity or affect protein-protein interactions. In this review I focus primarily on how effector proteins from bacterial and filamentous pathogens of plants and pests perturb host ubiquitination pathways that ultimately include the 26S proteasome. The activities of these effectors, in how they affect ubiquitin pathways in plants, reveals how pathogens have evolved to identify and exploit weaknesses in this system that deliver increased pathogen fitness.