The role of the gut microbiome in animal models of inflammatory and autoimmune disease is now well established. The human gut microbiome is currently being studied as a potential modulator of the immune response in rheumatic disorders. However, the vastness and complexity of this host-microorganism interaction is likely to go well beyond taxonomic, correlative observations. In fact, most advances in the field relate to the functional and metabolic capabilities of these microorganisms and their influence on mucosal immunity and systemic inflammation. An intricate relationship between the microbiome and the diet of the host is now fully recognized, with the microbiota having an important role in the degradation of polysaccharides into active metabolites. This Review summarizes the current knowledge on the metabolic role of the microbiota in health and rheumatic disease, including the advances in pharmacomicrobiomics and its potential use in diagnostics, therapeutics and personalized medicine.