Vaccinia viruses possess many of the key attributes necessary for an ideal viral backbone for use in oncolytic virotherapy. These include a short lifecycle, with rapid cell-to-cell spread. strong lytic ability, a large cloning capacity and well-defined molecular biology. In addition, although capable of replicating in human cells, they are not considered a natural health problem and are especially well characterized. having been delivered to millions of individuals during the campaign to eradicate smallpox. A variety of tumor-targeting mutations have been described in several different vaccinia strains and the expression of a variety of different transgenes has been studied. Early clinical results using either vaccine strains or genetically modified vaccinia strains have demonstrated antitumor effects. Future prospects for the development of these viruses will be discussed.