Retroviruses integrate their reverse transcribed genomes into host cell chromosomes as an obligate step in virus replication. The nuclear envelope separates the chromosomes from the cell cytoplasm during interphase, and different retroviral groups deal with this physical barrier in different ways. Gammaretroviruses are dependent on the passage of target cells through mitosis, where they are believed to access chromosomes when the nuclear envelope dissolves for cell division. Contrastingly, lentiviruses such as HIV-1 infect non-dividing cells, and are believed to enter the nucleus by passing through the nuclear pore complex. While numerous virally encoded elements have been proposed to be involved in HIV-1 nuclear import, recent evidence has highlighted the importance of HIV-1 capsid. Furthermore, capsid was found to be responsible for the viral requirement of various nuclear transport proteins, including transportin 3 and nucleoporins NUP153 and NUP358, during infection. In this review, we describe our current understanding of retroviral nuclear import, with emphasis on recent developments on the role of the HIV-1 capsid protein.