The 5th National Congress of the Italian Society of Virology (SIV) was attended by junior- and senior-level virologists to promote interactions and scientific collaborations among the different areas of Virology and allied sciences. The invited and selected lecturers covered the following topics: General Virology and Viral Genetics; Virus-host Interaction and Pathogenesis; Viral Oncogenesis; Viral Immunology and Vaccines; Anti-viral Therapy; Innovative Diagnostics; Viral Biotechnologies and Cell and Gene Therapy. As in the previous editions (Salata and Palù, 2004; Salata et al., 2005), a specific topic was thoroughly covered in a roundtable. This year the elected subject was "HIV: determinants of pathogenicity and clinical implications." The final program and the abstract book can be found at the web site http://www.siv-virologia.it. This report summarizes the lessons learned from the plenary lectures and the selected oral presentations of the 2005 meeting. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.