Close to half of the human genome encompasses mobile genetic elements, most of which are retrotransposons. These genetic invaders are formidable evolutionary forces that have shaped the architecture of the genomes of higher organisms, with some conserving the ability to induce new integrants within their hosts' genome. Expectedly, the control of endogenous retroviruses is tight and multi-pronged. It is most crucially established in the germ line and during the first steps of embryogenesis, primarily through transcriptional mechanisms that have likely evolved under their very pressure, but are now engaged in controlling gene expression at large, notably during early development.