On contemplating the adaptive capacity of reef organisms to a rapidly changing environment, the microbiome offers significant and greatly unrecognised potential. Microbial symbionts contribute to the physiology, development, immunity and behaviour of their hosts, and can respond very rapidly to changing environmental conditions, providing a powerful mechanism for acclimatisation and also possibly rapid evolution of coral reef holobionts. Environmentally acquired fluctuations in the microbiome can have significant functional consequences for the holobiont phenotype upon which selection can act. Environmentally induced changes in microbial abundance may be analogous to host gene duplication, symbiont switching / shuffling as a result of environmental change can either remove or introduce raw genetic material into the holobiont; and horizontal gene transfer can facilitate rapid evolution within microbial strains. Vertical transmission of symbionts is a key feature of many reef holobionts and this would enable environmentally acquired microbial traits to be faithfully passed to future generations, ultimately facilitating microbiome-mediated transgenerational acclimatisation (MMTA) and potentially even adaptation of reef species in a rapidly changing climate. In this commentary, we highlight the capacity and mechanisms for MMTA in reef species, propose a modified Price equation as a framework for assessing MMTA and recommend future areas of research to better understand how microorganisms contribute to the transgenerational acclimatisation of reef organisms, which is essential if we are to reliably predict the consequences of global change for reef ecosystems.