Mice were infected by the vaginal route with the MS strain of herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Serial vaginal cultures were used to confirm infection and to select mice for this study. Two mice were killed by perfusion on days 2–6 post infection (p.i.) and lumbar and sacral cord with cauda were fixed and embedded for electron microscopy. Semithin Epon-sections were stained for viral antigen using a rabbit anti-HSV-2 antiserum and the Avidin-Biotin (ABC) method. Thin sections from antigen-positive blocks were examined by electron microscopy, and the number and types of infected cells detected by these two methods were compared. A good correlation was found between detection of infected cells by these methods. Infected cells included neurons of dorsal root ganglia and spinal cord, satellite cells of dorsal root ganglia, non-myelinating Schwann cells, astrocytes, oligodendrocytes and arachnoidal cells. Infected cells were first detected in the cauda on day 3 p.i. and in the spinal cord on day 5 p.i. The temporal and spatial distribution of infected cells was consistent with neural spread to and within the CNS. The pathological lesions showed a good correlation with the distribution and number of infected cells and are probably due to a direct virus effect. The similar sensitivity of the Epon-ABC method to electron microscopy in detecting infected cells indicates that this method may have useful applications in both experimental and diagnostic work.