Most intracellular parasites employ sophisticated mechanisms to direct biogenesis of a vacuolar replicative niche that circumvents default maturation through the endolysosomal cascade. However, this is not the case of the Q fever bacterium, Coxiella burnetii. This hardy, obligate intracellular pathogen has evolved to not only survive, but to thrive, in the harshest of intracellular compartments: the phagolysosome. Following internalization, the nascent Coxiella phagosome ultimately develops into a large and spacious parasitophorous vacuole (PV) that acquires lysosomal characteristics such as acidic pH, acid hydrolases and cationic peptides, defences designed to rid the host of intruders. However, transit of Coxiella to this environment is initially stalled, a process that is apparently modulated by interactions with the autophagic pathway. Coxiella actively participates in biogenesis of its PV by synthesizing proteins that mediate phagosome stalling, autophagic interactions, and development and maintenance of the mature vacuole. Among the potential mechanisms mediating these processes is deployment of a type IV secretion system to deliver effector proteins to the host cytosol. Here we summarize our current understanding of the cellular events that occur during parasitism of host cells by Coxiella.