Data on influenza pandemics as well as on the characteristics of influenza viruses, which caused pandemicsin 1918, 1957, 1968, and 1977 are presented. Mechanisms of pandemic influenza virus strains evolving, including mutations resulting in increase of virulence, as well as possibility of human and avian influenza viruses reassortment process as the source of pandemic strains are discussed. Mechanisms of transformation of mildly virulent influenza virus strains to highly virulent, which can cause epizootics, are reviewed. Genes and proteins determining species specificity of avian influenza viruses as well as possible emergence of influenza pandemic caused by H5N1 strain are discussed. Suggestion of low probability of such event is expressed.