Iron is an essential cofactor for many basic metabolic pathways in pathogenic microbes and their hosts. It is also dangerous as it can catalyse the production of reactive free radicals. This dual character makes the host can either limit iron availability to invading microbes or exploit iron to induce toxicity to pathogens. Successful pathogens, including Leishmania species, must possess mechanisms to circumvent host's iron limitation and iron-induced toxicity in order to survive. In this review, we discuss the regulation of iron metabolism in the setting of infection and delineate the iron acquisition strategies used by Leishmania parasites and their subversions to host iron metabolism to overcome host's iron-related defences.