Ebola virus (EBOV) causes severe haemorrhagic fever leading to up to 90% lethality. Increasingly frequent outbreaks and the placement of EBOV in the category A list of potential biothreat agents have boosted interest in this virus. Furthermore, development of new technologies (e.g. reverse genetics systems) and extensive studies on Ebola haemorrhagic fever (EHF) in animal models have substantially expanded the knowledge on the pathogenic mechanisms that underlie this disease. Two major factors in EBOV pathogenesis are the impairment of the immune response and vascular dysfunction. Here, we attempt to summarize the current knowledge on EBOV pathogenesis focusing on these two factors and on recent progress in the development of vaccines and potential therapeutics.