It is hoped that the use of gene transfer technology to treat both monogenetic and acquired diseases may soon become a common therapy option in medicine. For gene therapy to achieve this objective, any gene delivery method will have to meet several criteria, including ease of manufacturing, efficient gene transfer to target tissue, long-term gene expression to alleviate the disease, and most importantly safety in patients. Viral vectors are an attractive choice for use in gene therapy protocols due to their relative efficiency in gene delivery. Since there is inherent risk in using viruses, investigators in the gene therapy community have devoted extensive efforts toward reengineering viral vectors for enhance safety. Here we review the approaches and technologies that are being evaluated for the use of recombinant vectors based upon adeno-associated virus (AAV) in the treatment of a variety of human diseases. AAV is currently the only known human DNA virus that is non-pathogenic and AAV-based vectors are classified as Risk Group 1 agents for all laboratory and animal studies carried out in the US. Although its apparent safety in natural infection and animals appears well documented, we examine the accumulated knowledge on the biology and vectorology of AAV, lessons learned from gene therapy clinical trials, and how this information is impacting current vector design and manufacturing with an overall emphasis on biosafety.