Recent reports showed many patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) harbor a retrovirus, xenotropic murine leukemia-related virus (XMRV), in blood; other studies could not replicate this finding. A useful next step would be to examine cerebrospinal fluid, because in some patients CFS is thought to be a brain disorder. Finding a microbe in the central nervous system would have greater significance than in blood because of the integrity of the blood–brain barrier. We examined cerebrospinal fluid from 43 CFS patients using polymerase chain reaction techniques, but did not find XMRV or multiple other common viruses, suggesting that exploration of other causes or pathogenetic mechanisms is warranted. Ann Neurol 2011;