Deceptive plants do not produce floral rewards, but attract pollinators by mimicking signals of other organisms, such as food plants or female insects. Such floral mimicry is particularly common in orchids, in which flower morphology, coloration and odour play key roles in deceiving pollinators. A better understanding of the molecular bases for these traits should provide new insights into the occurrence, mechanisms and evolutionary consequences of floral mimicry. It should also reveal the molecular bases of pollinator-attracting signals, in addition to providing strategies for manipulating insect behaviour in general. Here, we review data on the molecular bases for traits involved in floral mimicry, and we describe methodological advances helpful for the functional evaluation of key genes.