There are many avenues for making an effective vaccine against viruses. Depending on the virus these can include one of the following: inactivation of whole virions; attenuation of viruses; recombinant viral proteins; non-replication-competent virus particles; or surrogate virus vector systems such as vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV). VSV is a prototypic enveloped animal virus that has been used for over four decades to study virus replication, entry, and assembly due to its ability to replicate to high titers in a wide variety of mammalian and insect cells. The use of reverse genetics to recover infectious and single-cycle replicating VSV from plasmid DNA transfected in cell culture began a revolution in the study of recombinant VSV (rVSV). This platform can be manipulated to study the viral genetic sequences and proteins important in the virus life cycle. Additionally, foreign genes can be inserted between naturally occurring or generated start/stop signals and polyadenylation sites within the VSV genome. VSV has a tolerance for foreign gene expression which has led to numerous rVSVs reported in the literature. Of particular interest are the very effective single-dose rVSV vaccine vectors against high-containment viruses such as filoviruses, henipaviruses, and arenaviruses. Herein we describe the methods for selecting foreign antigenic genes, selecting the location within the VSV genome for insertion, generation of rVSV using reverse genetics, and proper vaccine study designs.