To survive and replicate in vertebrate hosts, protozoan and fungal invaders must be capable of securing host iron. Successful pathogens obtain the metal from either extraction of heme, binding of siderophilins, binding of siderophores, and/or iron pools within host cells. The actual strategy can vary with the availability of iron in the particular host milieu. As a corollary, hosts have developed an elaborate iron withholding defense system. Conditions that can compromise the system as well as procedures that can strengthen it are reviewed.