Antiviral drugs as well as natural remedies have been used to reduce symptoms and the rate of recurrences of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) infection, a common disease. To evaluate anti-HSV-1 activity of a pine cone lignin and ascorbic acid treatment, a clinical pilot study was carried out. Forty-eight healthy patients of both genders between 4 and 61 years old (mean: 31+/-16 years), with active lesions of HSV-1, took part in the study. According to the HSV-1 stage at the presentation, the patients were classified into the prodromic (16 patients), erythema (11 patients), papule edema (1 patient), vesicle/pustule (13 patients) and ulcer stages (7 patients). One mg of lignin-ascorbic acid tablet or solution was orally administered three times daily for a month. Clinical evaluations were made daily the first week and at least three times a week during the second week after the onset and every six months during the subsequent year to identify recurrence episodes. The patients who began the lignin-ascorbic acid treatment within the first 48 hours of symptom onset did not develop HSV-1 characteristic lesions, whereas those patients who began the treatment later experienced a shorter duration of cold sore lesions and a decrease in the symptoms compared with previous episodes. The majority of the patients reported the reduction in the severity of symptoms and the reduction in the recurrence episodes after the lignin-ascorbic acid treatment compared with previous episodes, suggesting its possible applicability for the prevention and treatment of HSV-1 infection.