Carbohydrate-active enzymes including glycosidases, transglycosidases, glycosyltransferases, polysaccharide lyases and carbohydrate esterases are responsible for the enzymatic processing of carbohydrates in plants. A number of carbohydrate-active enzymes are produced by microbial pathogens and insects responsible of severe crop losses. Plants have evolved proteinaceous inhibitors to modulate the activity of several of these enzymes. The continuing discovery of new inhibitors indicates that this research area is still unexplored and may lead to new exciting developments. To date, the role of the inhibitors is not completely understood. Here we review recent results obtained on the best characterised inhibitors, pointing to their possible biological role in vivo. Results recently obtained with plant transformation technology indicate that this class of inhibitors has potential biotechnological applications.