The introduction of foreign DNA into eukaryotic cells by transfection has become a standard and indispensable technique in molecular biology. The blunt instruments of calcium phosphate and electroporation are being superseded by increasingly refined tools, including recombinant viruses. Researchers, through understanding viral life cycles and gene function, have co-opted one of nature’s most efficient and highly evolved mechanisms for infecting cells. We have created this educational poster to increase understanding of the means and mechanisms available to you, the researcher, for shuttling exogenous DNA into your cell type of choice. The annotated graphical representation of the viral life cycles for adenovirus, AAV, and lentivirus walks the reader through the important steps in the pathway from infection all the way to replication and release. We provide a generalized protocol for transfection utilizing these viruses, including some tips and tricks that we hope will improve your success in the lab.