Retroviruses and DNA transposons are an important part of molecular biologists' toolbox. The applications of these elements range from functional genomics to oncogene discovery and gene therapy. However, these elements do not integrate uniformly across the genome, which is an important limitation to their use. A number of genetic and epigenetic factors have been shown to shape the integration preference of these elements. Insight into integration bias can significantly enhance the analysis and interpretation of results obtained using these elements. For three different applications, we outline how bias can affect results, and can potentially be addressed.