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To provide updated insights into innate antiviral immunity and highlight prototypical evolutionary features of well characterized HIV restriction factors.Recently, a new HIV restriction factor, Myxovirus resistance 2, has been discovered and the region/residue responsible for its activity identified using an evolutionary approach. Furthermore, IFI16, an innate immunity protein known to sense several viruses, has been shown to contribute to the defense to HIV-1 by causing cell death upon sensing HIV-1 DNA.Restriction factors against HIV show characteristic signatures of positive selection. Different patterns of accelerated sequence evolution can distinguish antiviral strategies – offense or defence – as well as the level of specificity of the antiviral properties. Sequence analysis of primate orthologs of restriction factors serves to localize functional domains and sites responsible for antiviral action. We use recent discoveries to illustrate how evolutionary genomic analyses help identify new antiviral genes and their mechanisms of action.