Bacterial stress responses provide them the opportunity to survive hostile environments, proliferate and potentially cause diseases in humans and animals. The way in which pathogenic bacteria interact with host immune cells triggers a complicated series of events that include rapid genetic re-programming in response to the various host conditions encountered. Viewed in this light, the bacterial host-cell induced stress response (HCISR) is similar to any other well-characterized environmental stress to which bacteria must respond by upregulating a group of specific stress-responsive genes. Post stress, bacteria must resume their pre-stress genetic program, and, as a consequence, must degrade unnecessary stress responsive transcripts through RNA decay mechanisms. Further, there is a well-established role for several ribonucleases in the cold shock response whereby they modulate the changing transcript landscape in response to the stress, and during acclimation and subsequent genetic re-programming post stress. Recently, ribonucleases have been implicated as virulence-associated factors in several notable Gram-negative pathogens including, the yersiniae, the salmonellae, Helicobacter pylori, Shigella flexneri and Aeromonas hydrophila. This review will focus on the roles played by ribonucleases in bacterial virulence, other bacterial stress responses, and on their novel therapeutic applications.