Exploitation of beneficial plant-microbe interactions in the rhizosphere can result in the promotion of plant health and have significant implications for low input sustainable agriculture applications such as biocontrol. Bacteria such as Bacillus and Pseudomonas, and fungi such as Trichoderma, have been developed as commercial biocontrol products. Registration of microbial inocualants as biocontrol agents in either the European Union or the United States requires production of extensive dossiers covering efficiacy, safety and risk assessment. Despite the fact that a number of Pseudomonas biocontrol products have been marketed there are still some limitations hampering the development of this technology for widespread use in agriculture. Although many strains show good performance in specific trials, this is often not translated into consistent, effective biocontrol in diverse field situations. Advances in 'Omics' technology and the publication of complete genome sequences of a number of plant-associative bacterial strains, has facilitated investigations into the molecular basis underpinning the establishment of beneficial plant-microbe interactions in the rhizosphere. The understanding of these molecular signalling processes and the functions they regulate is fundamental to promoting beneficial microbe-plant interactions, to overcome existing limitations and to designing improved strategies for the development of novel Pseudmonas biocontrol inoculant consortia. © 2006 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.