Extracts of Echinacea purpurea (EP, purple coneflower) have been used traditionally in North America for the treatment of various types of infections and wounds, and they have become very popular herbal medicines globally. Recent studies have revealed that certain standardized preparations contain potent and selective antiviral and antimicrobial activities. In addition, they display multiple immune-modulatory activities, comprising stimulation of certain immune functions such as phagocytic activity of macrophages and suppression of the proinflammatory responses of epithelial cells to viruses and bacteria, which are manifested as alterations in secretion of various cytokines and chemokines. These immune modulations result from upregulation or downregulation of the relevant genes and their transcription factors. All these bioactivities can be demonstrated at noncytotoxic concentrations of extract and appear to be due to multiple components rather than the individual chemical compounds that characterize Echinacea extracts. Potential applications of the bioactive extracts may go beyond their traditional uses.