Arenaviruses can cause fatal human haemorrhagic fever (HF) diseases for which vaccines and therapies are extremely limited. Both the New World (NW) and Old World (OW) groups of arenaviruses contain HF-causing pathogens. Although these two groups share many similarities, important differences with regard to pathogenicity and molecular mechanisms of virus infection exist. These closely related pathogens share many characteristics, including genome structure, viral assembly, natural host selection and the ability to interfere with innate immune signalling. However, members of the NW and OW viruses appear to use different receptors for cellular entry, as well as different mechanisms of virus internalization. General differences in disease signs and symptoms and pathological lesions in patients infected with either NW or OW arenaviruses are also noted and discussed herein. Whilst both the OW Lassa virus (LASV) and the NW Junin virus (JUNV) can cause disruption of the vascular endothelium, which is an important pathological feature of HF, the immune responses to these related pathogens seem to be quite distinct. Whereas LASV infection results in an overall generalized immune suppression, patients infected with JUNV seem to develop a cytokine storm. Additionally, the type of immune response required for recovery and clearance of the virus is different between NW and OW infections. These differences may be important to allow the viruses to evade host immune detection. Understanding these differences will aid the development of new vaccines and treatment strategies against deadly HF viral infections.