Protein kinases play a central role in signalling during pathogen recognition and the subsequent activation of plant defence mechanisms. Members of different kinase subfamilies, such as calcium-dependent protein kinases and MAP kinases, are involved. Nevertheless, often, only a single component of a signalling cascade in an experimental plant system has been characterised. The future challenge is to understand how these kinases work, which cellular responses they mediate, and how they fit into the bigger picture of defence signalling. This challenge has become increasingly feasible with the recent introduction of new techniques: these techniques include reverse genetics, which will allow the allocation of biological function to kinase isoforms, (phospho) proteomics combined with mass spectrometry, and transient expression of kinases in a (constitutively) active form, mimicking the induction of defence responses in a biological system.