Targeting of the Gag polyprotein to the plasma membrane (PM) for assembly is a critical event in the late phase of immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) infection. Gag binding to the PM is mediated by interactions between the myristoylated matrix (MA) domain and PM lipids. Despite the extensive biochemical and in vitro studies of Gag and MA binding to membranes over the last two decades, the discovery of the role of phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate [PI(4,5)P2] in Gag binding to the PM has sparked a string of studies aimed at elucidating the molecular mechanism of retroviral Gag-PM binding. Electrostatic interactions between a highly conserved basic region of MA and acidic phospholipids have long been thought to be the main driving force for Gag-membrane interactions. However, recent studies suggest that the mechanism is rather complex since other factors such as the hydrophobicity of the membrane interior represented by the acyl chains and cholesterol also play important roles. Here we summarize the current understanding of HIV-1 Gag-membrane interactions at the molecular and structural levels and briefly discuss the underlying forces governing interactions of other retroviral MA proteins with the PM.