© 2019, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited. Malignant tumors of the central nervous system (CNS) continue to be a leading cause of cancer-related mortality in both children and adults. Traditional therapies for malignant brain tumors consist of surgical resection and adjuvant chemoradiation; such approaches are often associated with extreme morbidity. Accordingly, novel, targeted therapeutics for neoplasms of the CNS, such as immunotherapy with oncolytic engineered herpes simplex virus (HSV) therapy, are urgently warranted. Herein, we discuss treatment challenges related to HSV virotherapy delivery, entry, replication, and spread, and in so doing focus on host anti-viral immune responses and the immune microenvironment. Strategies to overcome such challenges including viral re-engineering, modulation of the immunoregulatory microenvironment and combinatorial therapies with virotherapy, such as checkpoint inhibitors, radiation, and vaccination, are also examined in detail.