A herpesviral gill disease accompanied by mass mortality occurred in Japanese eels, Anguilla japonica (Temminck & Schlegel), reared in warm water ponds from 1993 to 1995. Diseased fish displayed marked haemorrhage and congestion within gill filaments and destruction at the tips of affected filaments with necrosis and inflammation in the central connective tissue and the central sinus. Electron microscopy revealed herpesvirus particles in infected fibrocytes within the filamental connective tissue. The isolate was identified as Herpesvirus anguillae by a neutralization test. Infectivity experiments with the isolates revealed that the virus was pathogenic.