Plant immune systems effectively prevent infections caused by the majority of microbial pathogens that are encountered by plants. However, successful pathogens have evolved specialized strategies to suppress plant defense responses and induce disease susceptibility in otherwise resistant hosts. Recent advances reveal that phytopathogenic bacteria use type III effector proteins, toxins, and other factors to inhibit host defenses. Host processes that are targeted by bacteria include programmed cell death, cell wall-based defense, hormone signaling, the expression of defense genes, and other basal defenses. The discovery of plant defenses that are vulnerable to pathogen attack has provided new insights into mechanisms that are essential for both bacterial pathogenesis and plant disease resistance.