Catabolic bacterial microcompartments (BMC), or metabolosomes, are self-assembling structures formed by enzymes enclosed by porous protein shells. They provide a specialised environment inside bacterial cells separating a short catabolic pathway with reactive or toxic intermediates from the cytoplasm. Substrates for microcompartment metabolism like ethanolamine and 1,2-propanediol are constantly produced in the human intestine by bacterial metabolism of food or host cell components. Enteric pathogens gain a competitive advantage in the intestine by metabolising these substrates, an advantage enhanced by the host inflammatory response. They exploit the intestinal specificity of signature metabolosome substrates by adopting substrate sensors and regulators encoded by BMC operons for governance of non-metabolic processes in pathogenesis. In turn, products of microcompartment metabolism regulate the host immune system.