Powdery mildews are among the most common plant diseases, infecting over 650 monocot and over 9000 dicot species. Analysis in domesticated barley and wild Arabidopsis has begun to unravel the genetic and molecular frameworks underlying the mechanisms of susceptibility and resistance to these biotrophic fungal pathogens. This has revealed multiple pathways regulating host defense, some of which are also involved in determining the host range of the pathogen. Host-cell death and rapid cell-wall remodeling have emerged as frequent themes in powdery-mildew resistance. Several mutants have been isolated that might shed light on the enigma of susceptibility determinants in plants.