The hydrophobic effect has been known for decades. Numerous researchers have invoked the hydrophobic effect to explain how pathogens adhere to tissues. In some cases, inhibition of adhesion can be brought about by low concentrations of aromatic compounds, such as p-nitrophenol or tryptophan. Because the hydrophobic effect has been considered to be nonspecific, the molecular biology of adhesive hydrophobins has not been studied in as much detail as lectin adhesins. The literature provides compelling evidence that a large number of bacterial and fungal pathogens depend on hydrophobic interactions for successful colonization of a host. Several laboratories are now developing effective antiadhesins, based on inhibition of hydrophobic interactions between the host and the pathogen.