Seasonal change in the incidence of infectious diseases is a common phenomenon in both temperate and tropical climates. However, the mechanisms responsible for seasonal disease incidence, and the epidemiological consequences of seasonality, are poorly understood with rare exception. Standard epidemiological theory and concepts such as the basic reproductive number R0 no longer apply, and the implications for interventions that themselves may be periodic, such as pulse vaccination, have not been formally examined. This paper examines the causes and consequences of seasonality, and in so doing derives several new results concerning vaccination strategy and the interpretation of disease outbreak data. It begins with a brief review of published scientific studies in support of different causes of seasonality in infectious diseases of humans, identifying four principal mechanisms and their association with different routes of transmission. It then describes the consequences of seasonality for R0, disease outbreaks, endemic dynamics and persistence. Finally, a mathematical analysis of routine and pulse vaccination programmes for seasonal infections is presented. The synthesis of seasonal infectious disease epidemiology attempted by this paper highlights the need for further empirical and theoretical work.