Most of the human genome has now been sequenced and about 30,000 potential open reading frames have been identified, indicating that we use these 30,000 genes to functionally organize our biologic activities. However, functions of many genes are still unknown despite intensive efforts using bioinformatics as well as transgenic and knockout mice. Retrovirus-mediated gene transfer is a powerful tool that can be used to understand gene functions. We have developed a variety of retrovirus vectors and efficient packaging cell lines that have facilitated the development of efficient functional expression cloning methods. In this review, we describe retrovirus-mediated strategies used for investigation of gene functions and function-based screening strategies.