In an environment that is rich in potentially pathogenic microorganisms, the survival of higher eukaryotic organisms depends on efficient pathogen sensing and rapidly mounted defence responses. Such protective mechanisms are found in all multicellular organisms, and are collectively referred to as ‘innate immunity’. Innate immunity is the first line of defence against invading microorganisms in vertebrates and the only line of defence in invertebrates and plants. Bacterial glycoconjugates, such as lipopolysaccharides (LPSs) from the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria and peptidoglycan (PGN) from the cell walls of both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, have been found to act as elicitors of plant innate immunity. These conserved, indispensable, microbe-specific molecules are also referred to as ‘microbe-associated molecular patterns’ (MAMPs). MAMPs are recognized by the plant innate immune system through the action of pattern recognition receptors (PRRs). A greater insight into the mechanisms of MAMP recognition and the description of PRRs for different microbial glycoconjugates will have considerable impact on the improvement of plant health and disease resistance. Here, the current knowledge about LPS and PGN as MAMPs is reviewed.