A new rapid direct immunofluorescence assay, the SimulFluor direct fluorescent-antibody (DFA) assay, which can simultaneously detect herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2 (HSV-1 and -2) and varicella-zoster virus (VZV), was evaluated in comparison with our current standard procedures of (i) shell vial direct immunoperoxidase (shell vial IP) staining and cell culture for detection of HSV and (ii) cytospin DFA staining for VZV detection. A total of 517 vesicular, oral, genital, and skin lesion specimens were tested by all three procedures. For HSV detection, the SimulFluor DFA assay had an overall sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value of 80.0, 98.3, 92.3, and 95.1%, respectively, when compared to culture. Shell vial IP staining had a sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value of 87.6, 100, 100, and 96.9%, respectively, when compared with cell culture. The SimulFluor DFA assay, however, offers same-day, 1.5-hours results versus a 1- to 2-day wait for shell vial IP staining results and a 1- to 6-day wait for culture results for HSV. For VZV detection SimulFluor DFA staining detected 27 positive specimens as compared to 31 by our standard cytospin DFA technique--a correlation of 87.1%. A positive SimulFluor reaction for VZV is indicated by yellow-gold fluorescence compared to the bright apple-green fluorescence observed by cytospin DFA staining. There is no difference in turnaround time between the two assays. The SimulFluor DFA assay is a rapid immunofluorescence assay that can detect 80% of the HSV-positive specimens and 87% of the VZV-positive specimens with a 1.5-h turnaround time.