A necrotizing retinopathy following a vesicular cutaneous eruption in the distribution of the right trigeminal nerve developed in a patient who had been receiving systemic corticosteroid therapy one week prior to the onset of herpes zoster ophthalmicus. Seven weeks after the herpetic symptoms began, the patient died of pneumonia following an intracerebral hematoma. At postmortem examination, unexpected multiple focal and confluent lesions, which corresponded to areas of extensive retinal necrosis, were observed in the fundus of the right eye. Intranuclear inclusions with a perinuclear halo were identified within the affected sensory retina. Electron microscopy of the retinal lesions disclosed round to oval enveloped viral particles that were characteristic of the herpes viruses. A mild lymphocytic infiltrate was evident in a demyelinated right Gasserian ganglion. Demyelination and necrosis of the right trigeminal sensory tract and adjacent areas were evident within the brain stem.