The interaction of a microbial pathogen with its host is a highly dynamic process shaped by evolution. Understanding cellular responses to microbial products is essential for a complete understanding of virulence. Similarly, studies aimed at determining how a particular virulence factor functions have helped unravel molecular mechanisms that govern eukaryotic cellular events. These two seemingly diverse areas were brought together on the beautiful Spanish Costa Brava in a recent meeting (October 13-17, 2002) sponsored by European Research Conferences (EURESCO) and the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO).