Microbial invasions can compromise ecosystem services and spur dysbiosis and disease in hosts. Nevertheless, the mechanisms determining invasion outcomes often remain unclear. Here, we examine the role of iron-scavenging siderophores in driving invasions of Pseudomonas aeruginosa into resident communities of environmental pseudomonads. Siderophores can be 'public goods' by delivering iron to individuals possessing matching receptors; but they can also be 'public bads' by withholding iron from competitors lacking these receptors. Accordingly, siderophores should either promote or impede invasion, depending on their effects on invader and resident growth. Using supernatant feeding and invasion assays, we show that invasion success indeed increased when the invader could use its siderophores to inhibit (public bad) rather than stimulate (public good) resident growth. Conversely, invasion success decreased the more the invader was inhibited by the residents' siderophores. Our findings identify siderophores as a major driver of invasion dynamics in bacterial communities under iron-limited conditions.