It is well known that microbial pathogens are able to subvert the host immune system in order to increase microbial replication and propagation. Recent research indicates that another arm of the immune response, that of the chemokine system, is also subject to this sabotage, and is undermined by a range of microbial pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Currently, it is known that the chemokine system is being challenged by a number of mechanisms, and still more are likely to be discovered with further research. Here we first review the general mechanisms by which microbial pathogens bypass mammalian chemokine defences. Broadly, these can be grouped as viral chemokine interacting proteins, microbial manipulation of host chemokine and chemokine receptor expression, microbial blockade of host chemokine receptor signalling, and the largely hypothetical mechanisms of microbial enhancement of host anti-chemokine networks (including digestion, antagonism, and neutralisation of host chemokines and chemokine receptors). We then discuss the potential results of these interactions in terms of outcome of infection. BioEssays 25:478–488, 2003. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.