Our previous studies showed that herpes simplex type 1 virus (HSV1) is present in a high proportion of the brain of elderly normal people and Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients. We subsequently discovered that the combination of HSV1 in brain and carriage of the type 4 allele of the gene for apolipoprotein E (apoE-epsilon 4) is a strong risk factor for AD, and also that apoE-epsilon 4 is a strong risk factor for herpes labialis. In this study we have examined apoE genotypes of sufferers from another disorder caused by HSV1, namely, herpes simplex keratitis (HSK), to find if an apoE allele is involved in the disorder. In 46 HSK patients the apoE-epsilon 4 allele frequency was 15%-the same as that found in 238 unaffected controls. The apoE-epsilon 2 allele frequency was 13%-higher than the value of 7% for unaffected people, but the difference is not statistically significant.