Root-secreted chemicals mediate multi-partite interactions in the rhizosphere, where plant roots continually respond to and alter their immediate environment. Increasing evidence suggests that root exudates initiate and modulate dialogue between roots and soil microbes. For example, root exudates serve as signals that initiate symbiosis with rhizobia and mycorrhizal fungi. In addition, root exudates maintain and support a highly specific diversity of microbes in the rhizosphere of a given particular plant species, thus suggesting a close evolutionary link. In this review, we focus mainly on compiling the information available on the regulation and mechanisms of root exudation processes, and provide some ideas related to the evolutionary role of root exudates in shaping soil microbial communities.