The fungus Ustilago maydis is a biotrophic pathogen parasitizing on maize. The most prominent symptoms of the disease are large tumors in which fungal proliferation and spore differentiation occur. In this study, we have analyzed early and late tumor stages by confocal microscopy. We show that fungal differentiation occurs both within plant cells as well as in cavities where huge aggregates of fungal mycelium develop. U. maydis is poorly equipped with plant CWDEs and we demonstrate by array analysis that the respective genes follow distinct expression profiles at early and late stages of tumor development. For the set of three genes coding for pectinolytic enzymes, deletion mutants were generated by gene replacement. Neither single nor triple mutants were affected in pathogenic development. Based on our studies, we consider it unlikely that U. maydis feeds on carbohydrates derived from the digestion of plant cell wall material, but uses its set of plant CWDEs for softening the cell wall structure as a prerequisite for in planta growth.