Chronic hepatitis B continues to be one of the most widespread and serious viral infections in humans worldwide. Several fundamental aspects of the molecular biology of its causative agent, hepatitis B virus, are meanwhile understood in some detail. However, recent research has emphasized that the dependence of the viral infectious cycle on cellular factors is far greater than previously anticipated. More and more intracellular interactions between viral and cellular components are discovered, and probably each individual step of genome replication will turn out to involve several host factors. Prominent examples are the activation of the viral reverse transcriptase, P protein, by chaperones, and the nucleocytoplasmic trafficking of viral nucleic acids by as yet unidentified components of the host machinery. Some of these new developments will be described here but many more can be expected to follow. Identifying these host factors and characterizing their interactions with the viral components will certainly reveal novel targets for specific antiviral strategies.