In this paper, we describe the purification of an antiviral peptide from seeds of Sorghum bicolor L. by a procedure that included gel filtration, ion exchange, and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) in a reversed-phase column. Its molecular weight, determined by chromatographic mobility on the Shim-pack DIOL-150 gel permeation column in HPLC, was found to be 2000Da. The peptide designated 2kD peptide strongly inhibited the replication of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), dose-dependently, at 40-90% of the control level, after incubation with 10-50 microM of the peptide, with EC(50) and EC(90) values of 6.25 and 15.25 microM, respectively. The IC(50) value of the 2kD peptide against Vero cells was 250 microM. Pre-incubation of HSV-1 with various concentrations of the 2kD peptide showed dose-dependent cytopathic effects (CPE) reduction patterns at concentrations from 6.25 to 50 microM. The presence of the 2kD peptide before HSV-1 infections showed moderate inhibition of virus-induced CPE as compared to during or after infections, with EC(50) values of 12.5, 6.25, and 6.25 microM, respectively. Similar results were observed when the 2kD peptide was assayed against bovine herpes virus (BHV), an enveloped virus like HSV-1. On the other hand, the 2kD peptide showed weak activity against poliovirus type 1, a non-enveloped virus. Taken together, these results indicate that the 2kD peptide was able not only to inhibit the initiation and the spread of infection, but also had an in vitro prophylactic effect against HSV-1 infection.