Viruses target the central nervous system (CNS) incidentally, due to complications of systemic infection, or specifically, by ascending via the axons of peripheral and cranial nerves. In the CNS, viruses cause acute disease (viz. encephalitis), latent infections or neurodegenerative pathology. Causation of acute disease or immune-mediated pathology, and virus involvement in the etiology of chronic neurodegenerative diseases depends, at least in part, on the ability to commander signaling pathways. Better understanding of these virus-host cell interactions will help identify molecular targets for the development of improved therapeutic strategies.