Plants cannot move to escape environmental challenges. Biotic stresses result from a battery of potential pathogens: fungi, bacteria, nematodes and insects intercept the photosynthate produced by plants, and viruses use replication machinery at the host's expense. Plants, in turn, have evolved sophisticated mechanisms to perceive such attacks, and to translate that perception into an adaptive response. Here, we review the current knowledge of recognition-dependent disease resistance in plants. We include a few crucial concepts to compare and contrast plant innate immunity with that more commonly associated with animals. There are appreciable differences, but also surprising parallels.