[en] Biologically speaking, Sendai virus (SeV), the murine parainfluenza virus type 1, is perceived as a common respiratory pathogen that is endemic in many rodent colonies throughout the world. Currently it is believed that SeV is the leading cause of pneumonia in mice and together with the mouse hepatitis viruses, is the most prevalent and important of the naturally occurring infections of mice. The scientific community also considers SeV as the archetype organism of the Paramyxoviridae family because most of the basic biochemical, molecular and biologic properties of the whole family were derived from its own characteristics. Recently, scientific interest for this old pathogen has re-emerged, this time because of its potential value as a vector for gene transfer. This review aimed at drawing an exhaustive picture of this multifaceted pathogen. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.