Mortality and morbidity rates remain high among patients with herpes simplex virus encephalitis (HSVE). Chemokine-mediated recruitment and activation of leukocytes to focal areas of viral CNS infection are crucial steps in antiviral response and clearance. However, the inflammatory reaction and cellular antiviral response may enhance collateral damage to neurons and account for chronic progressive brain damage. We identified a specific mRNA expression of the interferon-gamma-inducible chemokines (CXCL9, CXCL10 and CXCL11), and RANTES (CCL5) in the acute course and long-term of experimental HSVE. This pattern was substantially altered by anti-viral and anti-inflammatory treatment. Our findings indicate a pivotal role of these chemokines in the immunopathogenesis of HSVE.