Foamy viruses (FV) are complex retroviruses which are widespread in many species. Despite being discovered over 40 years ago, FV are among the least well characterized retroviruses. The replication of these viruses is different in many interesting respects from that of all other retroviruses. Infection of natural hosts by FV leads to a lifelong persistent infection, without any evidence of pathology. A large number of studies have looked at the prevalence of primate foamy viruses in the human population. Many of these studies have suggested that FV infections are prevalent in some human populations and are associated with specific diseases. More recent data, using more rigorous criteria for the presence of viruses, have not confirmed these studies. Thus, while FV are ubiquitous in all nonhuman primates, they are only acquired as rare zoonotic infections in humans. In this communication, we briefly discuss the current status of FV research and review the history of FV epidemiology, as well as the lack of pathogenicity in natural, experimental, and zoonotic infections.