The apicomplexan parasites Theileria annulata and Theileria parva cause severe lymphoproliferative disorders in cattle. Disease pathogenesis is linked to the ability of the parasite to transform the infected host cell (leukocyte) and induce uncontrolled proliferation. It is known that transformation involves parasite dependent perturbation of leukocyte signal transduction pathways that regulate apoptosis, division and gene expression, and there is evidence for the translocation of Theileria DNA binding proteins to the host cell nucleus. However, the parasite factors responsible for the inhibition of host cell apoptosis, or induction of host cell proliferation are unknown. The recent derivation of the complete genome sequence for both T. annulata and T. parva has provided a wealth of information that can be searched to identify molecules with the potential to subvert host cell regulatory pathways. This review summarizes current knowledge of the mechanisms used by Theileria parasites to transform the host cell, and highlights recent work that has mined the Theileria genomes to identify candidate manipulators of host cell phenotype.