Persistent virus infections are discussed from the virus point of view in terms of the bodily sites in which the infection persists. Glands and body surfaces are thought to be significant because they give the virus protection at the topographical level from immune forces, and because they are appropriate sites for the shedding of virus to the exterior. Germ cells are relevant sites because infection can thus be transmitted vertically from generation to generation in the host. The central nervous system, however, is generally a 'dead end' from which there is no shedding to the exterior. Persistance in blood may be relevant when continued arthropod transmission becomes possible. Most persistent viruses infect lymphoreticular tissues, and this is interpreted by suggesting that it results in an impaired immune response to the infecting virus, which in turn favours persistence. It is suggested that the biological function of virus transformation and the integration of viral into host cell DNA is that it enables the infection to persist in the host and undergo reactivation. Papovaviruses, adenoviruses and oncornaviruses are considered from this point of view.