Parvoviruses package a ssDNA genome. Both nonpathogenic and pathogenic members exist, including those that cause fetal infections, encompassing the entire spectrum of virus phenotypes. Their small genomes and simple coding strategy has enabled functional annotation of many steps in the infectious life cycle. They assemble a multifunctional capsid responsible for cell recognition and the transport of the packaged genome to the nucleus for replication and progeny virus production. It is also the target of the host immune response. Understanding how the capsid structure relates to the function of parvoviruses provides a platform for recombinant engineering of viral gene delivery vectors for the treatment of clinical diseases, and is fundamental for dissecting the viral determinants of pathogenicity. This review focuses on our current understanding of parvovirus capsid structure and function with respect to the infectious life cycle.