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Despite recent advances in both surgery and chemoradiotherapy, mortality rates for advanced cancer remain high. There is a pressing need for novel therapeutic strategies; one option is systemic oncolytic viral therapy. Intravenous administration affords the opportunity to treat both the primary tumour and any metastatic deposits simultaneously. Data from clinical trials have shown that oncolytic viruses can be systemically delivered safely with limited toxicity but the results are equivocal in terms of efficacy, particularly when delivered with adjuvant chemotherapy. A key reason for this is the rapid clearance of the viruses from the circulation before they reach their targets. This phenomenon is mainly mediated through neutralising antibodies, complement activation, antiviral cytokines, and tissue-resident macrophages, as well as nonspecific uptake by other tissues such as the lung, liver and spleen, and suboptimal viral escape from the vascular compartment. A range of methods have been reported in the literature, which are designed to overcome these hurdles in preclinical models. In this paper, the potential advantages of, and obstacles to, successful systemic delivery of oncolytic viruses are discussed. The next stage of development will be the commencement of clinical trials combining these novel approaches for overcoming the barriers with systemically delivered oncolytic viruses.