[en] Herpesviruses have mainly co-evolved with their hosts for millions of years. Consequently, different related host species may have been infected by various genetically related herpesviruses. Illustrating this concept, several ruminant alphaherpesviruses have been shown to form a cluster of viruses closely related to bovine herpesvirus 1 (BoHV-1): namely bovine herpesvirus 5, bubaline herpesvirus 1, caprine herpesvirus 1, cervid herpesviruses 1 and 2 and elk herpesvirus 1. These viruses share common antigenic properties and the serological relationships between them can be considered as a threat to BoHV-1 eradication programmes. BoHV-1 is a herpesvirus responsible for infectious bovine rhinotracheitis, which is a disease of major economic concern. In this article, the genetic properties of these ruminant alphaherpesviruses are reviewed on a comparative basis and the issue of interspecific recombination is assessed. The pathogenesis of these infections is described with emphasis on the host range and crossing of the host species barrier. Indeed, the non bovine ruminant species susceptible to these ruminant alphaherpesviruses may be potential BoHV-1 reservoirs. The differential diagnosis of these related infections is also discussed. In addition, available epidemiological data are used to assess the potential of cross-infection in ruminant populations. A better knowledge of these ruminant alphaherpesvirus infections is essential to successfully control infectious bovine rhinotracheitis.