Present-day treatment of chronic infections is based on compounds that aim to kill or inhibit growth of bacteria. Two problems are recognised to be intrinsically associated with this approach: (i) the frequently observed development of resistance to antimicrobial compounds; and (ii) the fact that all therapeutics are considerably less effective on bacteria growing as biofilms when compared with planktonic cells. The latter point is of particular importance as evidence has accumulated over the past few years that most chronic bacterial infections involve biofilms. The discovery of bacterial communication systems (quorum sensing systems) in Gram-negative bacteria which are believed to orchestrate important temporal events during the infectious process, including the production of virulence factors and the formation of biofilms, has afforded a novel opportunity to control the activity of infecting bacteria by other means than interfering with growth. Compounds that interfere with communication systems are present in nature. Such compounds should not only specifically attenuate the production of virulence factors but should also affect biofilm formation in a manner that is unlikely to pose a selective pressure for the development of resistant mutants.