Viruses that kill the host cell during their replication cycle have attracted much interest for the specific killing of tumor cells and this oncolytic virotherapy is being evaluated in clinical trials. The rationale for using replicative oncolytic viruses is that viral replication in infected tumor cells will permit in situ viral multiplication and spread of viral infection throughout the tumor mass thus overcoming the delivery problems of gene therapy. Improved understanding of the life cycle of viruses has evidenced multiple interactions between viral and cellular gene products, which have evolved to maximize the ability of viruses to infect and multiply within cells. Differences in viral-cell interactions between normal and tumor cells have emerged that have led to the design of a number of genetically engineered viral vectors that selectively kill tumor cells while sparing normal cells. These viruses have undergone further modifications to carry adjunct therapy genes to increase their anti-cancer abilities. Since these viruses kill cells by oncolytic mechanisms differing from standard anticancer therapies, there is an opportunity that synergistic interactions with other therapies might be found with the use of combination therapy. In this review, we focus on the oncolytic Herpes Simplex Virus-1 (HSV-1) vectors that have been examined in preclinical and clinical cancer models and their use in combination with chemo-, radio-, and gene therapies. © 2004 Bentham Science Publishers Ltd.