In humans, hantaviruses can cause haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) or hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HCPS). Currently it is estimated that 150,000 to 200,000 cases of hantavirus disease occur each year, the majority being reported in Asia. However, human hantavirus infections are increasingly reported in the Americas and Europe. Although many of the underlying pathogenic mechanisms still remain unclear, recent evidence rather argues against a purely immune-mediated pathophysiology of human disease. Despite the high morbidity and case-fatality rates of HFRS and HCPS, respectively, no vaccine or drug is currently proven to be preventive or therapeutic. This review summarises clinical features and current epidemiological findings, as well as concepts regarding the immunology, pathogenesis and intervention strategies of human hantaviral diseases.