Many pathogens must surmount an epithelial cell barrier in order to establi
sh an infection. While much has been learned about the interaction of bacte
rial pathogens with cultured epithelial cells, the influence of cell polari
ty on these events has only recently been appreciated. This review outlines
bacterial-host epithelial cell interactions in the context of the distinct
apical and basolateral surfaces of the polarized epithelium that lines the
lumens of our organs.