Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an immune inflammatory disease, where the underlying etiological cause remains elusive. Multiple triggering factors have been suggested, including environmental, genetic and gender components. However, underlying infectious triggers to the disease are also suspected. There is an increasing abundance of evidence supporting a viral etiology to MS, including the efficacy of interferon therapy and over-detection of viral antibodies and nucleic acids when compared with healthy patients. Several viruses have been proposed as potential triggering agents, including Epstein-Barr virus, human herpesvirus 6, varicella-zoster virus, cytomegalovirus, John Cunningham virus and human endogenous retroviruses. These viruses are all near ubiquitous and have a high prevalence in adult populations (or in the case of the retroviruses are actually part of the genome). They can establish lifelong infections with periods of reactivation, which may be linked to the relapsing nature of MS. In this review, the evidence for a role for viral infection in MS will be discussed with an emphasis on immune system activation related to MS disease pathogenesis.