Based on their spoilage-preventing and flavor-contributing characteristics, lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are employed as starter cultures for the fermentation of foods and feeds. In addition, several specific LAB strains are marketed on basis of their beneficial effects on the consumer's health, representing an explosively growing market for the products containing these so-called probiotics. Due to this extensive industrial use there is a strong interest in unraveling the molecular mechanisms involved in industrial robustness, cognate stress resistance, and health-promoting phenotypes of these LAB that may vary drastically between different starter and probiotic strains currently marketed. This review describes some of the post-genomic tools developed, as well as their employment for the identification of bacterial effector molecules involved in the aforementioned industrially relevant phenotypes. Furthermore, it addresses possible strategies to exploit such knowledge into the rational design of LAB strains with increased industrial functionality.