The purpose of this review was to evaluate the evidence supporting the hypothesis that viral infection plays a role in the development of periodontitis. An involvement in periodontal diseases has been suspected specifically for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and herpes viruses. An association has been demonstrated between HIV infection and some distinct forms of periodontal infection, i.e. necrotizing lesions. Furthermore, reports of increased prevalence and severity of chronic periodontitis in HIV-positive subjects suggests that HIV infection predispose to chronic periodontitis. Several studies, most of them from the same research group, have demonstrated an association of herpesviruses with periodontal disease. Viral DNA have been detected in gingival tissue, gingival cervicular fluid (GCF) and subgingival plaque from periodontaly diseased sites. In addition markers of herpesviral activation have been demonstrated in the GCF from periodontal lesions. Active human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) replication in periodontal sites may suggest that HCMV re-activation triggers periodontal disease activity. Concerns regarding sampling, methods and interpretation cast doubts on the role of viruses as causes of periodontal disease.