Most sexually transmitted HIV infections are the result of just one transmitted virus, but researchers are still wondering what, if anything, makes such transmitted founder viruses so special. Now, a team led by Beatrice Hahn at the University of Pennsylvania has found that transmitted founder viruses have biological properties that give them an advantage when initiating a new infection (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 2013, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1304288110).