The Syrian (golden) hamster (Mesocricetus auratus) has served as a useful model for different aspects of biology for at least 50 years, and its use has been expanding recently. In earlier years, among other things, it was a model for cancer development. More recently, it has become a model for many different infectious diseases. It has also become an alternative model for the study of oncolytic adenovirus vectors for cancer gene therapy. Among several other human pathogens, the hamster is permissive for the replication of human species C adenoviruses, which are the parental virus for the majority of adenovirus vectors in use today. These vectors replicate in some of the established hamster tumor cell lines that can be used to generate tumors in vivo, that is, one can study oncolytic (replication competent) adenoviruses in a permissive, immunocompetent model. This has afforded the opportunity to study the effect of the host immune system on the vector-infected tumor and has allowed the use of a more relevant animal model to determine the safety and biodistribution of replication-competent adenoviruses. The hamster has also been used to evaluate antiviral compounds and vaccines against many viruses, including adenoviruses, flaviviruses, alphaviruses, arenaviruses, bunyaviruses, and paramyxoviruses.