We present here the characterization of a new gene family, awr, found in all sequenced Ralstonia solanacearum strains and in other bacterial pathogens. We demonstrate that the five paralogues in strain GMI1000 encode type III-secreted effectors and that deletion of all awr genes severely impairs its capacity to multiply in natural host plants. Complementation studies show that the AWR (alanine-tryptophan-arginine tryad) effectors display some functional redundancy, although AWR2 is the major contributor to virulence. In contrast, the strain devoid of all awr genes (?awr1-5) exhibits enhanced pathogenicity on Arabidopsis plants. A gain-of-function approach expressing AWR in Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000 proves that this is likely due to effector recognition, because AWR5 and AWR4 restrict growth of this bacterium in Arabidopsis. Transient overexpression of AWR in nonhost tobacco species caused macroscopic cell death to varying extents, which, in the case of AWR5, shows characteristics of a typical hypersensitive response. Our work demonstrates that AWR, which show no similarity to any protein with known function, can specify either virulence or avirulence in the interaction of R. solanacearum with its plant hosts.