The feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) model provides a system to study lentivirus transmission, virus kinetics, pathogenesis, host responses, and immune dysfunction in a natural, out-bred host, under controlled conditions with specific-pathogen-free animals. The diversity of primary FIV strains can be exploited to mirror the range of disease manifestations associated with HIV infection. FIV is infectious via intravenous, intraperitoneal, intradermal, or subcutaneous injection as well as by atraumatic instillation onto the oral, vaginal, or rectal mucosa. Together, these features allow investigators to model specific aspects of HIV infection in a highly relevant and relatively inexpensive animal model. Well-developed areas of the FIV model include: (1) transmission of cell-associated as well as cell-free virus; (2) mucosal infectivity and immunopathogenesis; (3) vertical transmission; (4) acquired immunodeficiency including defects of the innate immune system; (5) thymic dysfunction; (6) neurotropism and neuropathogenesis; (7) host-virus interactions and the role of specific gene products; (8) efficacy of antiviral therapy; and (9) efficacy and immune correlates of experimental vaccines. This review will encompass areas specific to transmission and immunopathogenesis.