Every year the Cancer Research Institute from University of California at Irvine organizes the West Coast Retrovirus Meeting where participants have a chance to discuss the latest progress in understanding the pathology of retroviruses. The 12th meeting was held at the Hyatt Regency Suites in Palm Springs, California from October 6th to October 9th 2005, with the major focus on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) pathogenesis. Philippe Gallay from The Scripps Research Institute and Thomas J. Hope from Northwestern University organized the meeting, which covered all the steps involved in the lifecycle of retroviruses with an emphasis on virus:host interactions. The trend in research appeared to be on the restriction of viral infection, both by the endogenous, cellular restriction factors, as well as by the potential antimicrobial compounds of known or unknown mechanisms. Additionally, new stories on the inevitable feedback from the host immune system were presented as well. HIV still represents a challenge that an army of motivated people has been working on for over 20 years. And yet, the field has not reached the plateau in knowledge nor enthusiasm, which was proven again in October 2005 in Palm Springs.