Several microbes promote plant growth, and many microbial products that stimulate plant growth have been marketed. In this review we restrict ourselves to bacteria that are derived from and exert this effect on the root. Such bacteria are generally designated as PGPR (plant-growth-promoting rhizobacteria). The beneficial effects of these rhizobacteria on plant growth can be direct or indirect. This review begins with describing the conditions under which bacteria live in the rhizosphere. To exert their beneficial effects, bacteria usually must colonize the root surface efficiently. Therefore, bacterial traits required for root colonization are subsequently described. Finally, several mechanisms by which microbes can act beneficially on plant growth are described. Examples of direct plant growth promotion that are discussed include (a) biofertilization, (b) stimulation of root growth, (c) rhizoremediation, and (d) plant stress control. Mechanisms of biological control by which rhizobacteria can promote plant growth indirectly, i.e., by reducing the level of disease, include antibiosis, induction of systemic resistance, and competition for nutrients and niches.