Three crucial hurdles hinder studies on human cytomegalovirus (HCMV): strict species specifi city, differences between in vivo and in vitro infection, and the complexity of gene regulation. Ever since the sequencing of the whole genome was fi rst accomplished, functional studies on individual genes have been the mainstream in the CMV fi eld. Gene regulation has therefore been elucidated in a more detailed fashion. However, viral gene regulation is largely controlled by both cellular and viral components. In other words, viral gene expression is determined by the virus-host interaction. Generally, cells respond to viral infection in a defensive pattern; at the same time, viruses try to counteract the cellular defense or else hide in the host (latency). Viruses evolve effective strategies against cellular defense in order to achieve replicative success. Whether or not they are successful, cellular defenses remain in the whole viral replication cycle: entry, immediate- early (IE) gene expression, early gene expression, DNA replication, late gene expression, and viral egress. Many viral strategies against cellular defense, and which occur in the immediate-early time of viral infection, have been documented. In this review, we will summarize the documented biological functions of IE1 and pp71 proteins, especially with regard to how they counteract cellular intrinsic defenses.