Plants have evolved in an environment rich with microorganisms that are eager to capitalize on the plants' biosynthetic and energy-producing capabilities. There are approximately 450 species of plant-pathogenic viruses, which cause a range of diseases. However, plants have not been passive in the face of these assaults, but have developed elaborate and effective defence mechanisms to prevent, or limit, damage owing to viral infection. Plant resistance genes confer resistance to various pathogens, including viruses. The defence response that is initiated after detection of a specific virus is stereotypical, and the cellular and physiological features associated with it have been well characterized. Recently, RNA silencing has gained prominence as an important cellular pathway for defence against foreign nucleic acids, including viruses. These pathways function in concert to result in effective protection against virus infection in plants.