Plasmodium species are evolutionarily distant from model eukaryotes, and as a consequence they exhibit many non-canonical cellular processes. In the post-genomic era, functional "omics" disciplines (transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics) have accelerated our understanding of unique aspects of the biology of malaria parasites. Functional "omics" tools, in combination with genetic manipulations, have offered new opportunities to investigate the function of previously uncharacterized genes. Knowledge of basic parasite biology is fundamental to understanding drug modes of action, mechanisms of drug resistance, and relevance of vaccine candidates. This Perspective highlights recent "omics"-based discoveries in basic biology and gene function of the most virulent human malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum.