Intracellular viral infection is detected by the cytoplasmic RNA helicase RIG-I, which has an essential role in initiating the host antiviral response. The adaptor molecule that connects RIG-I sensing of incoming viral RNA to downstream signaling and gene activation has recently been elucidated by four independent research groups, and has been ascribed four different names: MAVS, IPS-1, VISA and Cardif. The fact that MAVS/IPS-1/VISA/Cardif localizes to the mitochondrial membrane suggests a link between viral infection, mitochondrial function and development of innate immunity. Furthermore, the hepatitis C virus NS3/4A protease specifically cleaves MAVS/IPS-1/VISA/Cardif as part of its immune-evasion strategy. These studies highlight a novel role for the mitochondria and for caspase activation and recruitment domain (CARD)-containing proteins in coordinating immune and apoptotic responses.