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The innate immune response is initiated by the interaction of stereotypical pathogen components with genetically conserved receptors for extracytosolic pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) or intracytosolic nucleic acids. In multicellular organisms, this interaction typically clusters signal transduction molecules and leads to their activations, thereby initiating signals that activate innate immune effector mechanisms to protect the host. In some cases programmed cell death—a fundamental form of innate immunity—is initiated in response to genotoxic or biochemical stress that is associated with viral infection. In this paper we will summarize innate immune mechanisms that are relevant to viral pathogenesis and outline the continuing evolution of viral mechanisms that suppress the innate immunity in mammalian hosts. These mechanisms of viral innate immune evasion provide significant insight into the pathways of the antiviral innate immune response of many organisms. Examples of relevant mammalian innate immune defenses host defenses include signaling to interferon and cytokine response pathways as well as signaling to the inflammasome. Understanding which viral innate immune evasion mechanisms are linked to pathogenesis may translate into therapies and vaccines that are truly effective in eliminating the morbidity and mortality associated with viral infections in individuals.