Rapid (co-)evolution at multiple timescales is a hallmark of plant-microbe interactions. The mechanistic basis for the rapid evolution largely rests on the features of the genomes of the interacting partners involved. Here, we review recent insights into genomic characteristics and mechanisms that enable rapid evolution of both plants and phytopathogens. These comprise fresh insights in allelic series of matching pairs of resistance and avirulence genes, the generation of novel pathogen effectors, the recently recognised small RNA warfare, and genomic aspects of secondary metabolite biosynthesis. In addition, we discuss the putative contributions of permissive host environments, transcriptional plasticity and the role of ploidy on the interactions. We conclude that the means underlying the rapid evolution of plant-microbe interactions are multifaceted and depend on the particular nature of each interaction.