Bacterial phytopathogens utilize a myriad of virulence factors to modulate their plant hosts in order to promote successful pathogenesis. One potent virulence strategy is to inject these virulence proteins into plant cells via the type III secretion system. Characterizing the host targets and the molecular mechanisms of type III secreted proteins, known as effectors, has illuminated our understanding of eukaryotic cell biology. As a result, these effectors can serve as molecular probes to aid in our understanding of plant cellular processes, such as immune signalling, vesicle trafficking, cytoskeleton stability and transcriptional regulation. Furthermore, given that effectors directly and specifically interact with their targets within plant cells, these virulence proteins have enormous biotechnological potential for manipulating eukaryotic systems.