Penetration of the central nervous system of the adult rat by the CVS strain of rabies virus and its two avirulent derivatives Av01 and Av02 has been studied by inoculation of the virus into the anterior chamber of the eye. The primary sites of penetration of CVS were (i) the intraocular parasympathetic oculomotor fibers, (ii) the retinopetal fibers of pretectal origin, and (iii) the intraocular fibers of the ophthalmic nerve. The mutant strains, however, lost the capacity to invade the two former groups of fibers, although their penetration into the trigeminal system was not impaired. Neither strain CVS nor the mutants infected primarily the intraocular adrenergic terminals and the optic nerve. Mutant strains, but not CVS, were able to infect the lens. These results indicate that the cholinergic receptor may not be the only receptor for rabies virus and that rabies virus is conveyed in the nervous system by retrograde axoplasmic flow. Strain CVS spread throughout the brain and propagated eventually back to the retina. The mutants penetrated the brain as well, but the infection was slow, involved different cerebral structures, and cleared up completely in 3 weeks, probably because of an efficient immune response.