Plant-mediated interactions between begomoviruses and whiteflies exert important influences on the population dynamics of vectors and the epidemiology of plant diseases. In this article, we synthesize the relevant literature to identify patterns to the interactions. We then review studies on the ecological, biochemical and molecular mechanisms underlying the interactions and finally elaborate on the most interesting issues for future research. The interactions between begomoviruses and the insect vector, the whitefly Bemisia tabaci, via their shared host plants can be mutualistic, neutral or negative. However, in contrast to a pattern of improved performance of vectors on virus-infected plants that has been observed with persistently transmitted RNA viruses, the number of cases exhibiting mutualistic, neutral or negative effects in the indirect interactions between begomoviruses and whiteflies appear evenly distributed. With regard to the mechanisms of plant-mediated positive effects on whiteflies, two case studies indicate that suppression of plant defence and/or alteration in plant nutrition as a result of virus infection can be important. Our review shows that we are only just beginning to understand the tripartite interactions between begomoviruses, whiteflies and plants. Future efforts in this area should try to expand the number and diversity of pathosystems for investigation to reveal the patterns of interactions, to investigate the molecular and biochemical mechanisms of the interactions using a multidisciplinary approach, and to examine the virus–plant–vector interactions in the field and in natural plant communities.