Oomycetes from the genus Phytophthora are among the most important plant pathogens in agriculture. Epidemics caused by P. infestans precipitated the great Irish famine and had a major impact on society and human history. In the tropics, P. palmivora is a pathogen of many plant species including cacao (Theobroma cacao), citrus (Citrus sp.), durian (Durio zibethines), jackfruit (Artrocarpus heterophyllus), rubber (Hevea brasiliensis), and several palm species including coconut (Cocos nucifera), and the African oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) as determined recently. The first localized epidemics of bud rot in oil palm in Colombia were reported in 1964. However, recent epidemics of bud rot have destroyed more than 70,000 ha of oil palm in the Western and Central oil palm growing regions of Colombia. The agricultural, social, and economic implications of these outbreaks have been significant in Colombia. Identification of the pathogen after 100 years of investigating the disease in the world enabled further understanding of infection, expression of a range of symptoms, and epidemiology of the disease. This review examines the identification of P. palmivora as the cause of bud rot in Colombia, its epidemiology, and discusses the importance of P. palmivora as a major threat to oil palm plantings globally.