Head and neck cancers usually present with advanced disease and novel therapies are urgently needed. Genetic therapy aims at restoring malfunctioned tumor suppressor gene(s) or introducing proapoptotic genes. Oncolytic virotherapeutics induce multiple cycles of cancer-specific virus replication, followed by oncolysis, virus spreading and infection of adjacent cancer cells. Oncolytic viruses can also be armed to express therapeutic transgene(s). Recent advances in preclinical and clinical studies are revealing the potential of both therapeutic classes for advanced head and neck cancers, including the approval of two products (Gendicine and H101) by a governmental agency. This review summarizes the available clinical data to date and discusses the challenges and future directions.