Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection contributes to the development of several different types of human malignancy, including Burkitt lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma, and nasopharyngeal carcinoma. As a herpesvirus, EBV can establish latent or lytic infection in cells. EBV-positive tumors are composed almost exclusively of cells with latent EBV infection. Strategies for inducing the lytic form of EBV infection in tumor cells are being investigated as a potential therapy for EBV-positive tumors. In this article, we review how cellular and viral proteins regulate the latent-lytic EBV switch in infected B cells and epithelial cells, and discuss how harnessing lytic viral reactivation might be used therapeutically. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.