Genome manipulation, the primary tool for assigning function to sequence, will be essential for understanding Plasmodium biology and malaria pathogenesis in molecular terms. The first success in transfecting Plasmodium was reported almost ten years ago. Gene-targeting studies have since flourished, as Plasmodium is haploid and integrates DNA only by homologous recombination. These studies have shed new light on the function of many proteins, including vaccine candidates and drug resistance factors. However, many essential proteins, including those involved in parasite invasion of erythrocytes, cannot be characterized in the absence of conditional mutagenesis. Proteins also cannot be identified on a functional basis as random DNA integration has not been achieved. We overview here the ways in which the Plasmodium genome can be manipulated. We also point to the tools that should be established if our goal is to address parasite infectivity in a systematic way and to conduct refined structure-function analysis of selected products.