Trichomonas vaginalis is emerging as a major pathogen of men and women and is associated with serious health consequences. Advances in diagnosis and treatment are presented. The complexity of trichomonad pathogenesis is illustrated in the interaction of this parasite with human cells, tissues and the immune system. It is now becoming evident that the interaction of trichomonads with the host is frequently modulated by environmental signals. The molecular biology of trichomonads is still in its infancy, but analysis of genes, genomic structure and transcriptional mechanisms suggest that trichomonads combine both prokaryotic and eukaryotic features. Evidence for the ancient divergence of trichomonads from other eukaryotic lineages is discussed.