The separation of transcription in the nucleus and translation in the cytoplasm requires nucleo-cytoplasmic exchange of proteins and RNAs. Viruses have evolved strategies to capitalize on the nucleo-cytoplasmic trafficking machinery of the cell. Here, we first discuss the principal mechanisms of receptor-mediated nuclear import of proteinaceous cargo through the nuclear pore complex, the gate keeper of the cell nucleus. We then focus on viral strategies leading to nuclear import of genomes and subgenomic particles. Nucleo-cytoplasmic transport is directly important for those viruses that are replicating in the nucleus, such as DNA tumor viruses and RNA viruses, including parvoviruses, the DNA retroviruses hepadnaviruses, RNA-retrotransposons and retroviruses, adenoviruses, herpesviruses, papovaviruses, and particular negative-sense RNA viruses, such as the orthomyxovirus influenza virus. The viral strategies of nuclear import turn out to be surprisingly diverse. Their investigation continues to give insight into how nucleic acids pass in and out of the nucleus.