Twenty years following the description of the broad-spectrum antiviral activity of S-9-(3-hydroxy-2-phosphonylmethoxypropyl)adenine [(S)-HPMPA] [De Clercq E, Holý A, Rosenberg I, Sakuma T, Balzarini J, Maudgal PC. A novel selective broad-spectrum anti-DNA virus agent. Nature 1986;323:464-7], the acyclic nucleoside phosphonates have acquired a prominent therapeutic position: (i) cidofovir in the treatment of papilloma-, herpes-, adeno- and poxvirus infections, (ii) adefovir in the treatment of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections, and (iii) tenofovir in the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections (AIDS). Although formally approved only for the treatment of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) retinitis in AIDS patients, cidofovir has been used successfully in the treatment of various other DNA virus infections, particularly human papilloma virus (HPV)-associated lesions. Adefovir dipivoxil has become a standard therapy for HBV infections, especially when resistant to lamivudine. Tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) is the corner stone of the triple-drug (TDF, emtricitabine, and efavirenz) combination therapy for AIDS, and TDF, alone or combined with emtricitabine may in the future evolve to the standard therapy of hepatitis B. Guided by the results obtained with tenofovir in the prevention of parenteral, intravaginal and perinatal infections with simian immunodeficiency virus in monkeys, and the safety profile gathered with TDF in humans with AIDS over the past 5 years since TDF was licensed for clinical use, it should be further pursued for the pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis of HIV infections in humans. Meanwhile, new classes of both acyclic (i.e. PMPO-DAPy, PMEO-DAPy, HPMPO-DAPy) and cyclic nucleoside phosphonates (i.e. PMDTA, PMDTT, GS9148) have been accredited with an antiviral potency and selectivity similar to those of cidofovir, adefovir and/or tenofovir.