While formerly known infections of Corynebacterium ulcerans are rare and mainly associated with contact to infected cattle, C. ulcerans has become an emerging pathogen today. In Western Europe, cases of respiratory diphtheria caused by C. ulcerans have been reported more often than infections by Corynebacterium diphtheria, while systemic infections are also increasingly reported. Little is known about factors that contribute to host colonization and virulence of this zoonotic pathogen. Research in this field has received new impetus by the publication of several C. ulcerans genome sequences in the past years. This review gives a comprehensive overview of the basic knowledge of C. ulcerans, as well as the recent advances made in the analysis of putative virulence factors.