An antiviral drug susceptibility assay of herpes simplex virus (HSV) was developed using real-time PCR quantification of intracellular viral DNA load. The number of HSV DNA copies within Vero cells after 24 h infection was strongly correlated with the number of plaques obtained after 72 h infection. Antiviral drug susceptibility of HSV was determined after virus growth for 24h by measuring the reduction of intracellular HSV DNA in the presence of increasing concentrations of either acyclovir (ACV) or foscarnet (PFA). This assay required neither preliminary titration of infectious stock nor follow-up of cytopathic effect. The 50% inhibitory concentrations (IC50s) obtained with 27 isolates of HSV types 1 and 2 by using this test were significantly correlated with those obtained in parallel with plaque reduction assay taken as the reference method (r=0.91, p<0.0001 and r=0.51, p=0.009 for ACV and PFA, respectively). The threshold real-time PCR IC50s for ACV and PFA resistance did not differ according to HSV type and were determined to be 1.0 and 100 microM, respectively. The real-time PCR susceptibility assay reported here is rapid, reproducible, applicable for HSV-1 as well as HSV-2, and suitable for automation.