Enterococci, traditionally viewed as Gram-positive commensal bacteria inhabiting the alimentary canals of humans and animals, are now acknowledged to be organisms capable of causing life-threatening infections in humans, especially in the nosocomial environment. The existence of enterococci in such a dual role is facilitated, at least in part, by its intrinsic and acquired resistance to virtually all antibiotics currently in use. Beginning with the initial identification of a 'streptococci of fecal origin' in the late 19th century, enterococci have been studied for over a century now. A number of comprehensive reviews during this time have addressed various aspects of enterococci, including classification, biology, virulence, antibiotic resistance and so on. This review specifically addresses the important advances in the field of enterococcal research that have occurred since the beginning of the 21st century. Most notable among these developments have been the insights into enterococcal genomes and pathogenicity.