A bioactive fraction (GLPG) was extracted and purified from the mycelia of Ganoderma lucidum by EtOH precipitation and DEAE-cellulose column chromatography. GLPG was a proteoglycan and had a carbohydrate:protein ratio of 10.4:1. Its antiviral activities against herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and type 2 (HSV-2) were investigated by the cytopathic effect (CPE) inhibition assay in cell culture. This kind of polysaccharide inhibited the development of the cytopathic effect in dose-dependent manner in HSV-infected cells, moreover did not show any cytotoxic effects on cells even when a concentration was as high as 2000 microg/ml. In order to study the possible mode of action of the antiviral activity of GLPG, cells were treated with GLPG before, during and after infection, and the viral titers in the supernatant of cell culture 48 h post-infection were tested by TCID(50) assay. The antiviral effects in pre-treated and treated during virus infection with GLPG were more remarkable than the treatment of post-infection. Although the precise mechanism has yet to be defined, our work suggested that GLPG inhibits viral replication by interfering with the early events of viral adsorption and entry into target cells. Thus, this proteoglycan seems to be a potential candidate for anti-HSV agents.