Free-living amoebae are a diverse group of ubiquitous unicellular organisms, some of which cause severe central nervous system infections and keratitis. However, the focus of research has shifted from the direct pathogenic effects of free-living amoebae towards their role as carriers of pathogenic bacteria. Large outbreaks of legionellosis with numerous fatal cases, both in hospitals and in the community, appear to be the visible tip of the iceberg of complex relationships between amoebae and bacteria in biofilms. The recognition of amoebae as reservoirs and vehicles for bacterial spread leads us to public health issues such as the development of pathogenicity, antibiotic resistance, quality of public water supplies, housing standards, sanitation and decontamination measures. In this review we discuss bacterial infections of free-living amoebae from both a "biological" and general "infection control" point of view.