The large tumor antigen (T antigen) encoded by simian virus 40 is an amazing molecular machine because it orchestrates viral infection by modulating multiple fundamental viral and cellular processes. T antigen is required for viral DNA replication, transcription, and virion assembly. In addition, T antigen targets multiple cellular pathways, including those that regulate cell proliferation, cell death, and the inflammatory response. Ectopic T antigen expression results in the immortalization and transformation of many cell types in culture and T antigen induces neoplasia when expressed in rodents. The analysis of the mechanisms by which T antigen carries out its many functions has proved to be a powerful way of gaining insights into cell biology. The accelerating pace at which new polyomaviruses are being discovered provides a collection of novel T antigens that, like simian virus 40, can be used to discover and study key cellular regulatory systems.