Human immunodeficiency virus type I (HIV) is the etiologic agent of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS. Vectors based upon HIV have been in use for over a decade. Beginning in 1996, with the demonstration of improved pseudotyping using vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) G protein along with transduction of resting mammalian cells, a series of improvements have been made in these vectors, making them both safer and more efficacious. Taking a cue from vector development of murine leukemia virus (MLV), split coding and self-inactivating HIV vectors now appear quite suitable for phase I clinical trials. In parallel, a number of pre-clinical efficacy studies in animals have demonstrated the utility of these vectors for various diseases processes, especially neurodegenerative and hematopoietic illnesses. These vectors are also appropriate for the study of other viruses (specifically of viral entry) and investigation of the HIV replicative cycle, along with straightforward transgene delivery to target cells of interest. Vectors based upon other lentiviruses have shown similar abilities and promise. Although concerns remain, particularly with regards to detection and propagation of replication-competent lentivirus, it is almost certain that these vectors will be introduced into the clinic within the next 3-5 years.