This review deals with the avian paramyxovirus Newcastle disease virus (NDV) and describes properties that explain its oncolytic activity, its tumor-selective replication behavior, and its immune-stimulatory capacity with human cells. The strong interferon response of normal cells upon contact with NDV appears to be the basis for the good tolerability of the virus in cancer patients and for its immune stimulatory properties, whereas the weak interferon response of tumor cells explains the tumor selectivity of replication and oncolysis. Various concepts for the use of this virus for cancer treatment are pointed out and results from clinical studies are summarized. Reverse genetics technology has made it possible recently to clone the genome and to introduce new foreign genes thus generating new recombinant viruses. These can, in the future, be used to transfer new therapeutic genes into tumors and also to immunize against new emerging pathogens. The modular nature of gene transcription, the undetectable rate of recombination, and the lack of a DNA phase in the replication cycle make NDV a suitable candidate for the rational design of a safe and stable vaccine and gene therapy vector.