Pathogenic eukaryotes belong to several distinct phylogenetic lineages and have evolved the ability to colonize a range of hosts, including animals and plants. Pathogenic lifestyles have evolved repeatedly in eukaryotes, indicating that unique molecular processes are involved in host infection. However, evidence is now emerging that divergent eukaryotic pathogens might share common mechanisms of pathogenicity. The results from recent studies demonstrate that Plasmodium falciparum and Phytophthora infestans use equivalent host-targeting signals to deliver virulence adhesins and avirulence gene products into human and plant cells, respectively. Remodelling of host cells by different eukaryotic pathogens might therefore share some common features.