Lenviviral diseases of animals have been recognized for over a century, long before HIV was recognized as the cause of AIDS. All lentiviruses cause neurological disease and productive virus replication in the CNS occurs exclusively in cells of macrophage lineage. The ability to molecularly engineer the inoculum virus, to sample the brain at many different time points from acute through terminal infection and to correlate in vivo with in vitro findings are significant advantages of animal models of HIV CNS disease. The lentiviruses can be divided into two pathogenetic groups – those that cause immunosuppression, including the lentiviruses of humans (HIV), non-human primates (SIV), cats (FIV), and cattle (BIV), and those that cause immunoproliferation, including the lentiviruses of horses (EIAV), sheep (OvLV) and goats (CAEV). Despite extensive study, no rodent lentivirus has been identified, prompting development of alternate strategies to study lentiviral pathogenesis using rodents. The immunosuppressive lentiviruses most closely recapitulate the disease manifestations of HIV infection, and both SIV and FIV have contributed significantly to our understanding of how HIV causes both central and peripheral nervous system disease.