In addition to a range of preformed barriers, plants defend themselves against microbial invasion by detecting conserved, secreted molecules, called pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs). PAMP-triggered immunity (PTI) is the first inducible layer of plant defence that microbial pathogens must navigate by the delivery of effector proteins that act to suppress or otherwise manipulate key components of resistance. Effectors may themselves be targeted by a further layer of defence, effector-triggered immunity (ETI), as their presence inside or outside host cells may be detected by resistance proteins. This 'zig-zag-zig' of tightly co-evolving molecular interactions determines the outcome of attempted infection. In this article, we consider the complex molecular interplay between plants and plant pathogenic oomycetes, drawing on recent literature to illustrate what is known about oomycete PAMPs and elicitors of defence responses, the effectors they utilize to suppress PTI, and the phenomenal molecular 'battle' between effector and resistance (R) genes that dictates the establishment or evasion of ETI.