The sensing of stress signals and their transduction into appropriate responses is crucial for the adaptation and survival of plants. Kinase cascades of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) class play a remarkably important role in plant signalling of a variety of abiotic and biotic stresses. MAPK cascade-mediated signalling is an essential step in the establishment of resistance to pathogens. Here, we describe the most recent insights into MAPK-mediated pathogen defence response regulation with a particular focus on the cascades involving MPK3, MPK4 and MPK6. We also discuss the strategies developed by plant pathogens to circumvent, inactivate or even 'hijack' MAPK-mediated defence responses.