Community-acquired Acinetobacter baumannii (CA-Ab) is a rare but serious cause of community-acquired pneumonia in tropical regions of the world. CA-Ab infections predominantly affect individuals with risk factors, which include excess alcohol consumption, diabetes mellitus, smoking and chronic lung disease. CA-Ab pneumonia presents as a surprisingly fulminant course and is characterized by a rapid onset of fever, severe respiratory symptoms and multi-organ dysfunction, with a mortality rate reported as high as 64%. It is unclear whether the distinct clinical syndrome caused by CA-Ab is because of host predisposing factors or unique bacterial characteristics, or a combination of both. Deepening our understanding of the drivers of overwhelming CA-Ab infection will provide important insights into preventative and therapeutic strategies.