Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) have long provided powerful research tools for virologists to understand the mechanisms of virus entry into host cells and of antiviral immunity. Even so, commercial development of human (or humanized) mAbs for the prophylaxis, preemptive and acute treatment of viral infections has been slow. This is surprising, as new antibody discovery tools have increased the speed and precision with which potent neutralizing human antiviral mAbs can be identified. As longstanding barriers to antiviral mAb development, such as antigenic variability of circulating viral strains and the ability of viruses to undergo neutralization escape, are being overcome, deeper insight into the mechanisms of mAb action and engineering of effector functions are also improving the efficacy of antiviral mAbs. These successes, in both industrial and academic laboratories, coupled with ongoing changes in the biomedical and regulatory environments, herald an era when the commercial development of human antiviral mAb therapies will likely surge.