Capripoxviruses are the cause of sheeppox, goatpox and lumpy skin disease (LSD) of cattle. These diseases are of great economic significance to farmers in regions in which they are endemic and are a major constraint to international trade in livestock and their products. Although the distribution of capripoxviruses is considerably reduced from what it was even 50 years ago, they are now expanding their territory, with recent outbreaks of sheeppox or goatpox in Vietnam, Mongolia and Greece, and outbreaks of LSD in Ethiopia, Egypt and Israel. Increased legal and illegal trade in live animals provides the potential for further spread, with, for instance, the possibility of LSD becoming firmly established in Asia. This review briefly summarizes what is known about capripoxviruses, including their impact on livestock production, their geographic range, host-specificity, clinical disease, transmission and genomics, and considers current developments in diagnostic tests and vaccines. Capripoxviruses have the potential to become emerging disease threats because of global climate change and changes in patterns of trade in animals and animal products. They also could be used as economic bioterrorism agents.