Viruses are important causes of nosocomial infection, but the fact that hospital outbreaks often result from introduction(s) from community-based epidemics, together with the need to initiate specific laboratory testing, means that there are usually insufficient data to allow the monitoring of trends in incidences. The most important defenses against nosocomial transmission of viruses are detailed and continuing education of staff and strict adherence to infection control policies. Protocols must be available to assist in the management of patients with suspected or confirmed viral infection in the health care setting. In this review, we present details on general measures to prevent the spread of viral infection in hospitals and other health care environments. These include principles of accommodation of infected patients and approaches to good hygiene and patient management. They provide detail on individual viral diseases accompanied in each case with specific information on control of the infection and, where appropriate, details of preventive and therapeutic measures. The important areas of nosocomial infection due to blood-borne viruses have been extensively reviewed previously and are summarized here briefly, with citation of selected review articles. Human prion diseases, which present management problems very different from those of viral infection, are not included.