Clostridium difficile is an important nosocomial pathogen and the most frequently diagnosed cause of infectious hospital-acquired diarrhoea. Toxigenic strains usually produce toxin A and toxin B, which are the primary virulence factors of C. difficile. Some recently described strains produce an additional toxin, an adenosine-diphosphate ribosyltransferase known as binary toxin, the role of which in pathogenicity is unknown. There has been concern about the emergence of a hypervirulent fluoroquinolone-resistant strain of C. difficile in North America and Europe. The use of fluoroquinolone antimicrobials appears to be acting as a selective pressure in the emergence of this strain. In this review, we describe the current state of knowledge about C. difficile as a cause of diarrhoeal illness.