Temperature is considered as the major factor determining virus inactivation in the environment. Food industries, therefore, widely apply temperature as virus inactivating parameter. This review encompasses an overview of viral inactivation and virus genome degradation data from published literature as well as a statistical analysis and the development of empirical formulae to predict virus inactivation. A total of 658 data (time to obtain a first log10 reduction) were collected from 76 published studies with 563 data on virus infectivity and 95 data on genome degradation. Linear model fitting was applied to analyse the effects of temperature, virus species, detection method (cell culture or molecular methods), matrix (simple or complex) and temperature category (<50 and ≥50°C). As expected, virus inactivation was found to be faster at temperatures ≥50°C than at temperatures <50°C, but there was also a significant temperature–matrix effect. Virus inactivation appeared to occur faster in complex than in simple matrices. In general, bacteriophages PRD1 and PhiX174 appeared to be highly persistent whatever the matrix or the temperature, which makes them useful indicators for virus inactivation studies. The virus genome was shown to be more resistant than infectious virus. Simple empirical formulas were developed that can be used to predict virus inactivation and genome degradation for untested temperatures, time points or even virus strains.