Many bacterial and viral pathogens block or subvert host cellular processes to promote successful infection. One host protein that is targeted by invading pathogens is the small GTPase RAB11, which functions in vesicular trafficking. RAB11 functions in conjunction with a protein complex known as the exocyst to mediate terminal steps in cargo transport via the recycling endosome to cell-cell junctions, phagosomes and cellular protrusions. These processes contribute to host innate immunity by promoting epithelial and endothelial barrier integrity, sensing and immobilizing pathogens and repairing pathogen-induced cellular damage. In this Review, we discuss the various mechanisms that pathogens have evolved to disrupt or subvert RAB11-dependent pathways as part of their infection strategy.