Xanthomonas campestris pathovar vesicatoria (Xcv) uses the type III secretion system (TTSS) to inject effector proteins into cells of Solanaceous plants during pathogenesis. A number of Xcv TTSS effectors have been identified; however, their function in planta remains elusive. Here, we provide direct evidence for a functional role for a phytopathogenic bacterial TTSS effector in planta by demonstrating that the Xcv effector XopD encodes an active cysteine protease with plant-specific SUMO substrate specificity. XopD is injected into plant cells by the TTSS during Xcv pathogenesis, translocated to subnuclear foci and hydrolyses SUMO-conjugated proteins in vivo. Our studies suggest that XopD mimics endogenous plant SUMO isopeptidases to interfere with the regulation of host proteins during Xcv infection.