The rice blast pathosystem has been the subject of intense interest in part because of the importance of the disease to world agriculture, but also because both Magnaporthe oryzae and its host are amenable to advanced experimental approaches. The goal of this review is to provide an overview of the system and to point out recent significant studies that update our understanding of the biology of M. oryzae. The genome sequence of M. oryzae has provided insight into how genome structure and pathogen population genetic variability has been shaped by transposable elements. The sequence allows systematic approaches to long-standing areas of investigation, including pathogen development and the molecular basis of compatible and incompatible interactions with its host. Rice blast provides an integrated system to illustrate most of the important concepts governing fungal/plant interactions and serves as an excellent starting point for gaining a broad perspective of issues in plant pathology.