Arthropods are involved in the transmission of parasitic and viral agents that cause devastating diseases in animals and plants. Effective control strategies for many of these diseases still rely on the elimination or reduction of vector insect populations. In addition to these pathogenic organisms, arthropods are rich in microbes that are symbiotic in their associations and are often necessary for the fecundity and viability of their hosts. Because the viability of the host often depends on these obligate symbionts, and because these organisms often live in close proximity to disease-causing pathogens, they have been of interest to applied biologists as a potential means to genetically manipulate populations of pest species. As knowledge on these symbiotic associations accumulates from distantly related insect taxa, conserved mechanisms for their transmission and evolutionary histories are beginning to emerge. Here, Serap Aksoy summarizes current knowledge on the functional and evolutionary biology of the multiple symbionts harbored in the medically and agriculturally important insect group, tsetse, and their potential role in the control of trypanosomiasis.