Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a clinically important and ubiquitous herpesvirus. Following primary productive infection the virus is not completely eliminated from the host, but instead establishes a lifelong latent infection without detectable virus production, from where it can reactivate at a later stage to generate new infectious virus. Reactivated HCMV often results in life-threatening disease in immunocompromised individuals, particularly allogeneic stem cell and solid organ transplant recipients, where it remains one of the most difficult opportunistic pathogens that complicate the care of these patients. The ability of HCMV to establish and reactivate from latency is central to its success as a human pathogen, yet latency remains very poorly understood. This article will cover several aspects of HCMV latency, with a focus on current understanding of viral gene expression and functions during this phase of infection.