Successful host defense against viral infections relies on early production of type I interferon (IFN) and subsequent activation of a cellular cytotoxic response. The acute IFN and inflammatory response against virus infections is mediated by cellular pattern-recognition receptors (PRRs) that recognize specific molecular structures on viral particles or products of viral replication. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) constitute a class of membrane-bound PRRs capable of detecting microbial infections. While TLR2 and TLR4, which were first identified to recognize Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, respectively, sense specific viral proteins on the cell surface, TLRs 3, 7, 8, and 9 serve as receptors for viral nucleic acids in endosomic compartments. In addition to TLRs, cells express cytoplasmic PRRs such as the RNA helicase retinoic acid inducible gene I and the kinase double-stranded RNA-activated protein kinase R, both of which sense dsRNA, a characteristic signature of viral replication, and initiate a protective cellular response. Here we review the recent progress in our understanding of PRRs and viral infections and discuss the molecular and cellular responses evoked by virus-activated PRRs. Finally, we look into what is currently known about the role of PRRs in viral infections in vivo.