The bacterium Vibrio cholerae is the causative agent of the diarrheal disease cholera and is responsible for seven known pandemics. The seventh cholera pandemic began in 1961 and is still active. Unlike previous pandemics, it is caused by cholera strains of a slightly different type. How did the modified cholera strains develop and spread, and what might have contributed to their success? Scientists have now gained new insights into a molecular mechanism that provides insight into the interactions between cholera bacteria and may have played a role in the emergence of the seventh pandemic.