A great diversity of parasites, from viruses and bacteria to a range of remarkable eukaryotic organisms, exploit reptile and amphibian hosts. Recent increases in the emergence of infectious disease have revealed the importance of understanding the effects of interactions between hosts and their parasites. Here we review the effects of parasite infection on a range of demographic, behavioural, genomic and physiological factors in reptile and amphibian species. Reviewing these parasite roles collectively, and prioritising areas for research, advances our ecological understanding and guides direction for conservation in a time of rapid species decline. Poorly resolved systems include Gymnophionan amphibians and Crocodilian hosts, in addition to viral and bacterial parasites. Future research should seek to understand processes enabling population recovery and examining synergistic interactions of parasites with fragmentation, climate change and other processes that threaten species persistence.