Antiviral therapy can lead to drug resistance, but multiple factors determine the frequency of drug resistance mutations and the clinical consequences. When chronic infections caused by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) and Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) are compared with acute infections such as influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and other respiratory viruses, there are similarities in how and why antiviral resistance substitutions occur, but the clinical significance can be quite different. Emergence of resistant variants has implications for design of new therapeutics, treatment guidelines, clinical trial design, resistance monitoring, reporting, and interpretation. In this discussion paper, we consider the molecular factors contributing to antiviral drug resistance substitutions, and a comparison is made between chronic and acute infections. The implications of resistance are considered for clinical trial endpoints and public health, as well as the requirements for therapeutic monitoring in clinical practice with acute viral infections.