Heme oxygenase 1 (HO-1), the rate-limiting enzyme in heme degradation, is involved in the maintenance of cellular homeostasis, exerting a cytoprotective role by its antioxidative and anti-inflammatory functions. HO-1 and its end products, biliverdin, carbon monoxide and free iron (Fe), confer cytoprotection against inflammatory and oxidative injury. Additionally, HO-1 exerts antiviral properties against a diverse range of viral infections by interfering with replication or activating the interferon (IFN) pathway. Severe cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), are characterized by systemic hyperinflammation, which, in some cases, leads to severe or fatal symptoms as a consequence of respiratory failure, lung and heart damage, kidney failure, and nervous system complications. This review summarizes the current research on the protective role of HO-1 in inflammatory diseases and against a wide range of viral infections, positioning HO-1 as an attractive target to ameliorate clinical manifestations during COVID-19.