The malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, harbours a relict plastid known as the ‘apicoplast’. The discovery of the apicoplast ushered in an exciting new prospect for drug development against the parasite. The eubacterial ancestry of the organelle offers a wealth of opportunities for the development of therapeutic interventions. Morphological, biochemical and bioinformatic studies of the apicoplast have further reinforced its ‘plant-like’ characteristics and potential as a drug target. However, we are still not sure why the apicoplast is essential for the parasite's survival. This review explores the origins and metabolic functions of the apicoplast. In an attempt to decipher the role of the organelle within the parasite we also take a closer look at the transporters decorating the plastid to better understand the metabolic exchanges between the apicoplast and the rest of the parasite cell.