Abstract Following inoculation of the KOS strain of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) into one anterior chamber of euthymic BALB/c mice, virus spreads from the injected eye to the central nervous system and from the central nervous system to the optic nerve and retina of only the uninoculated eye. In contrast, in athymic BALB/c mice or mice depleted of both CD4 + and CD8 + T cells, virus spreads to the optic nerve and retina of both the injected eye and the uninjected eye. To determine the location in the central nervous system where spread of virus to the optic nerve and retina of the injected eye is prevented, euthymic BALB/c mice were injected with a mixture of KOS and RH116, a mutant of KOS that contains the Escherichia coli β-galactosidase (β-gal) gene. Several animals were sacrified each day; serial frozen sections of the brain were prepared and sequential sections were stained for β-gal or for T cells. At all sites except the suprachiasmatic nuclei, virus and T cells arrived at approximately the same time. However, at day 5 post inoculation (PI), T cells were present in both the ipsilateral and the contralateral suprachiasmatic nuclei, but only the ipsilateral suprachiasmatic nucleus was virus-positive. Since virus spreads from the ipsilateral suprachiasmatic nucleus to the contralateral optic nerve, these results suggest that T cells infiltrating the area of the contralateral suprachiasmatic nucleus prior to the arrival of virus at this site prevent virus spread into the optic nerve of the inoculated eye.