The interaction of bacterial pathogens with their hosts' innate immune systems can be extremely complex and is often difficult to disentangle experimentally. Using mouse models of bacterial infections, several laboratories have successfully applied genetic approaches to identify novel host genes required for innate immune defense. In addition, a variety of creative bacterial genetic schemes have been developed to identify key bacterial genes involved in triggering or evading host immunity. In cases where both the host and pathogen are amenable to genetic manipulation, a combination of host and pathogen genetic approaches can be used. Focusing on bacterial infections of mice, this review summarizes the benefits and limitations of applying genetic analysis to the study of host-pathogen interactions. In particular, we consider how prokaryotic and eukaryotic genetic strategies can be combined, or "squared," to yield new insights in host-pathogen biology.