Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) and Epstein-Barr virus type 1 (EBV-1) are frequently detected in crevicular fluid of deep periodontal pockets, but little or no information is available on occurence of herpesviruses in gingival tissue. This investigation studied the presence of herpesviruses in periodontal pockets and the corresponding gingival tissues from 11 periodontally healthy and 14 periodontitis sites. A nested-polymerase chain reaction was employed to identify the presence of HCMV, EBV-1, EBV-2, herpes simplex virus, human herpesvirus (HHV)-6, HHV-7 and HHV-8 in each test sample. In healthy periodontal sites, HCMV was detected in 1 (9%) and EBV-1 in 2 (18%) pocket samples, and HCMV was detected in 2 (18%) and EBV-1 in 3 (27%) gingival tissue samples. In periodontitis lesions, HCMV was detected in 9 (64%) pocket samples and in 12 (86%) gingival tissue samples, and EBV-1 was detected in 6 (43%) pocket samples and in 11 (79%) gingival tissue samples. HHV-6 and HHV-8 were detected exclusively in gingival tissue samples. The present findings confirm the frequent presence of HCMV and EBV-1 in periodontitis lesions and suggest using gingival tissue specimens for detecting periodontal HHV-6, HHV-7 and HHV-8.