Macroautophagy (“autophagy”), is the process by which cells can form a double membraned vesicle that encapsulates material to be degraded by the lysosome. This can include complex structures such as damaged mitochondria, peroxisomes, protein aggregates and large swathes of cytoplasm that could not be processed efficiently by other means of degradation. Recycling of amino acids and lipids through autophagy, allows the cell to form intracellular pools that aids survival during periods of stress, including growth factor deprivation, amino acid starvation or a depleted oxygen supply. One of the major functions of autophagy that has emerged over the last decade is its importance as a safeguard against infection. The ability of autophagy to selectively target intracellular pathogens for destruction is now regarded as a key aspect of the innate immune response. However, pathogens have evolved mechanisms to either evade or reconfigure the autophagy pathway for their own survival. Understanding how pathogens interact with and manipulate the host autophagy pathway will hopefully provide a basis for combating infection and increase our understanding of the role and regulation of autophagy. Herein, we will discuss how the host cell can identify and target invading pathogens and how pathogens have adapted in order to evade destruction by the host cell. In particular, we will focus on interactions between the mammalian ATG8 proteins and the host and pathogen effector proteins.