Innate immune mechanisms are well conserved throughout evolution, and many theoretical concepts, molecular pathways and gene networks are applicable to invertebrate model organisms as much as vertebrate ones. Drosophila immunity research benefits from an easily manipulated genome, a fantastic international resource of transgenic tools and over a quarter century of accumulated techniques and approaches to study innate immunity. Here we present a short collection of ways to challenge the fruit fly immune system with various pathogens and parasites, as well as read-outs to assess its functions, including cellular and humoral immune responses. Our review covers techniques for assessing the kinetics and efficiency of immune responses quantitatively and qualitatively, such as survival analysis, bacterial persistence, antimicrobial peptide gene expression, phagocytosis and melanisation assays. Finally, we offer a toolkit of Drosophila strains available to the research community for current and future research.