Enterovirus 71 (EV71) causes fatal encephalitis in young children. However, there is no effective antiviral drug available for infected patients. Ribavirin is currently used for the treatment of several RNA virus infections clinically, so its anti-EV71 efficacy was evaluated. In vitro results showed that ribavirin effectively reduced the viral yields (with an IC50 of 65 microg/mL) and virus-induced cytopathic effect in human and mouse cell lines. In vivo results showed that ribavirin reduced the mortality, morbidity, and subsequent paralysis sequelae in infected mice by decreasing viral loads in tissues. Thus, ribavirin could be a potential anti-EV71 drug.