Plant viruses are biotrophic pathogens that need living tissue for their multiplication and thus, in the infection-defence equilibrium, they do not normally cause plant death. In some instances virus infection may have no apparent pathological effect or may even provide a selective advantage to the host, but in many cases it causes the symptomatic phenotypes of disease. These pathological phenotypes are the result of interference and/or competition for a substantial amount of host resources that can disrupt host physiology to cause disease. This interference/competition affects a number of genes, which seems to be greater the more severe the symptoms that they cause. Induced or repressed genes belong to a broad range of cellular processes, such as hormonal regulation, cell cycle control and endogenous transport of macromolecules, among others. In addition, recent evidence indicates the existence of interplay between plant development and antiviral defence processes, and that interference among the common points of their signalling pathways can trigger pathological manifestations. This review provides an update on the latest advances in understanding how viruses affect substantial cellular processes, and how plant antiviral defences contribute to pathological phenotypes.