Two meetings, one sponsored by the Wellcome Trust in 2012 and the other by the Global Virology Foundation in 2013, assembled academic, public health and pharmaceutical industry experts to assess the challenges and opportunities for developing antivirals for the treatment of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections. The practicalities of clinical trials and establishing reliable outcome measures in different target groups were discussed in the context of the regulatory pathways that could accelerate the translation of promising compounds into licensed agents. RSV drug development is hampered by the perceptions of a relatively small and fragmented market that may discourage major pharmaceutical company investment. Conversely, the public health need is far too large for RSV to be designated an orphan or neglected disease. Recent advances in understanding RSV epidemiology, improved point-of-care diagnostics, and identification of candidate antiviral drugs argue that the major obstacles to drug development can and will be overcome. Further progress will depend on studies of disease pathogenesis and knowledge provided from controlled clinical trials of these new therapeutic agents. The use of combinations of inhibitors that have different mechanisms of action may be necessary to increase antiviral potency and reduce the risk of resistance emergence.