Smallpox was the first human disease to be eradicated, through a concerted vaccination campaign led by the World Health Organization. Since its eradication, routine vaccination against smallpox has ceased, leaving the world population susceptible to disease caused by orthopoxviruses. In recent decades, reports of human disease from zoonotic orthopoxviruses have increased. Furthermore, multiple reports of newly identified poxviruses capable of causing human disease have occurred. These facts raise concerns regarding both the opportunity for these zoonotic orthopoxviruses to evolve and become a more severe public health issue, as well as the risk of Variola virus (the causative agent of smallpox) to be utilized as a bioterrorist weapon. The eradication of smallpox occurred prior to the development of the majority of modern virological and molecular biological techniques. Therefore, there is a considerable amount that is not understood regarding how this solely human pathogen interacts with its host. This paper briefly recounts the history and current status of diagnostic tools, vaccines, and anti-viral therapeutics for treatment of smallpox disease. The authors discuss the importance of further research to prepare the global community should a smallpox-like virus emerge.