DNA and RNA viruses depend on one or more enzymes to copy and transcribe their genome, such as a polymerase, helicase, or exonuclease. Because of the important role of these enzymes in the virus replication cycle, they are key targets for antiviral development. To better understand the function of these enzymes and their interactions with host and viral factors, biochemical, structural and single-molecule approaches have been used to study them. Each of these techniques has its own strengths, and single-molecule methods have proved particularly powerful in providing insight into the step-sizes of motor proteins, heterogeneity of enzymatic activities, transient conformational changes, and force-sensitivity of reactions. Here we will discuss how single-molecule FRET, magnetic tweezers, optical tweezers, atomic force microscopy and flow stretching approaches have revealed novel insights into polymerase fidelity, the mechanism of action of antivirals, and the protein choreography within replication complexes.