It is now clear that transport on microtubules by dynein and kinesin family motors has an important if not critical role in the replication and spread of many different viruses. Understanding how viruses hijack dynein and kinesin motors using a limited repertoire of proteins offers a great opportunity to determine the molecular basis of motor recruitment. In this review, we discuss the interactions of dynein and kinesin-1 with adenovirus, the α herpes viruses: herpes simplex virus (HSV1) and pseudorabies virus (PrV), human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and vaccinia virus. We highlight where the molecular links to these opposite polarity motors have been defined and discuss the difficulties associated with identifying viral binding partners where the basis of motor recruitment remains to be established. Ultimately, studying microtubule-based motility of viruses promises to answer fundamental questions as to how the activity and recruitment of the dynein and kinesin-1 motors are coordinated and regulated during bi-directional transport.