The ability to move in a directed manner may confer distinct advantages upon host-adapted prokaryotes. Potential benefits of motility include increased efficiency of nutrient acquisition, avoidance of toxic substances, the ability to translocate to preferred hosts and access optimal colonization sites within them, and dispersal in the environment during the course of transmission. The costs of motility also may be significant. These include the metabolic burden of synthesizing flagellar components, the energetic expense of fuelling flagellar motors and the presentation of polymeric and highly antigenic targets to the immune system. It is therefore not surprising that synthesis of the motility apparatus is usually subject to strict control. Studies of a variety of bacterial–host interactions demonstrate roles for motility, and its regulation, at points throughout the infectious cycle.