The first part of this paper surveys emerging pathogens of wildlife recorded on the ProMED Web site for a 2-year period between 1998 and 2000. The majority of pathogens recorded as causing disease outbreaks in wildlife were viral in origin. Anthropogenic activities caused the outbreaks in a significant majority of cases. The second part of the paper develops some matrix models for quantifying the basic reproductive number, R(0), for a variety of potential types of emergent pathogen that cause outbreaks in wildlife. These analyses emphasize the sensitivity of R(0) to heterogeneities created by either the spatial structure of the host population, or the ability of the pathogens to utilize multiple host species. At each stage we illustrate how the approach provides insight into the initial dynamics of emergent pathogens such as canine parvovirus, Lyme disease, and West Nile virus in the United States.