The emergence of vesicular stomatatis virus (VSV) as a potent antitumor agent has made a dissection of the molecular determinants of host-cell permissiveness to this virus an important objective. Such insight would not only enable the intelligent design of future generations of recombinant VSV vectors to combat disease, but may also resolve general features of cellular transformation that may be exploited by this virus, and perhaps other oncolytic viruses. The defective pathways underlining the oncolytic activity of VSV remain to be fully determined but recent data indicates that flaws in innate immune responses, involving the interferon (IFN) system, may commonly occur in tumor cells and thus play a large role in facilitating oncolysis. Aside from the IFN system, however, it is almost certain that other key cellular pathways may be similarly defective and therefore cooperatively contribute towards mediating rapid oncolytic virus activity. Recent data have indicated that defects in cancer cell translational regulation could be one area that may be exploited by VSV. Certainly, all viruses require cellular protein synthesis pathways to facilitate their replication and many have devised numerous mechanisms to ensure that viral mRNAs become translated at the expense of the host. Using VSV as a model, this review will discuss some of the recent developments in the fields of innate immunity and translational regulation that may help explain mechanisms of viral oncolysis.