Immunohistochemistry was used to study herpes simplex virus type 1–induced central nervous system demyelination in the trigminal root entry zone of mice inoculated with herpes simplex virus type 1 by the corneal route. There was no change in peripheral nervous system myelin as shown by immunostaining for Po glycoprotein. Double immunoperoxidase staining for herpes simplex virus type 1 antigens and glial fibrillary acidic protein showed that most of the infected cells were astrocytes. Glial fibrillary acidic protein immunostaining was completely lost in the inferior medial portion of the trigeminal root entry zone at 6 days after herpes simplex virus type 1 inoculation, a time when central nervous system myelin was preserved as indicated by immunostaining for myelin basic protein. The pattern of glial fibrillary acidic protein staining did not change and herpes simplex virus type 1 antigens were no longer detected after day 8. There was a progressive loss of myelin basic protein staining within the area unstained by glial fibrillary acidic protein antisera on days 8 to 14. This pattern of astrocyte loss before central nervous system demyelination is strikingly different from the reactive astrocytosis seen in other demyelinating lesions, such as acute experimental allergic encephalomyelitis, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, or acute multiple sclerosis. Herpes simplex virus type 1 infection in mice provides an unusual model of acute central nervous system demyelination preceded by a loss of astrocytes.