Many bacteria have been found to interact with specialized domains, rich in cholesterol and sphingolipids, of the host plasma membrane, termed lipid rafts. The mechanisms that underlie this interaction are starting to be unravelled. In this issue, Hayward et al. show that early effector proteins secreted by type III secretion harbouring Gram-negative bacteria are in fact cholesterol-binding proteins. Combined with other recent findings, this work shows that multiple steps leading to infection by these bacteria depend on raft components: activation of secretion, binding, perforation of the host cell membrane and signalling to trigger bacterial engulfment