Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and varicella-zoster virus (VZV) establish latent infections in the peripheral nervous system following primary infection. During latency both virus genomes exhibit limited transcription, with the HSV-1 LATs and at least four VZV transcripts consistently detected in latently infected human ganglia. In this study we used real-time PCR quantitation to determine the viral DNA copy number in individual trigeminal ganglia (TG) from 17 subjects. The number of HSV-1 genomes was not significantly different between the left and right TG from the same individual and varied per subject from 42.9 to 677.9 copies per 100 ng of DNA. The number of VZV genomes was also not significantly different between left and right TG from the same individual and varied per subject from 37.0 to 3,560.5 copies per 100 ng of DNA. HSV-1 LAT transcripts were consistently detected in ganglia containing latent HSV-1 and varied in relative expression by >500-fold. Of the three VZV transcripts analyzed, only transcripts mapping to gene 63 were consistently detected in latently infected ganglia and varied in relative expression by >2,000-fold. Thus, it appears that, similar to LAT transcription in HSV-1 latently infected ganglia, VZV gene 63 transcription is a hallmark of VZV latency.