Quorum sensing (QS) is a community genetic regulation mechanism that controls microbiological functions of medical, agricultural and industrial importance. Discovery of microbial QS signals and the signalling mechanisms led to identification of numerous enzymatic and non-enzymatic signal interference mechanisms that quench microbial QS signalling. Evidence is accumulating that such signal interference mechanisms can be developed as promising approaches to control microbial infection and biofilm formation. In addition, these mechanisms exist not only in microorganisms but also in the host organisms of bacterial pathogens, highlighting their potential implications in microbial ecology and in host–pathogen interactions. Investigation of QS and signal interference mechanisms might significantly broaden the scope of research in microbiology.