Specimens submitted for the detection of herpes simplex virus (HSV) were inoculated into conventional cell-culture tubes and fresh MRC-5 shell vials. The shell vial centrifugation cultures (SVCs) were examined at 16 hr postinoculation for HSV by using type-specific monoclonal antibodies (SVC-FA); they were also analyzed for HSV antigen by using an enzyme-linked immunoassay (SVC-ELISA). Mink Lung (ML) and rhabdomyosarcoma (RD) cells were used in the cell-culture tubes. Of 182 specimens, 35 (19%) were positive in cell-culture tubes, 16 (9%) were positive by SVC-ELISA, and 22 (12%) were positive SVC-FA. All specimens that were positive by SVC-ELISA, SVC-FA, and in culture tubes displayed cytopathic effect (CPE) at 16 hr. Those specimens that had a negative ELISA and/or FA result and were positive in culture were evaluated for the time in which it took to detect CPE. At 16 hr, 48% of the positive tubes were detected; at 40 hr (second day), 83% of the positive tubes were detected; and by the third day, 94% were detected. The RD cell line displayed CPE at the same time or earlier than ML cells did in 92% of the positive cases. The sensitivity of the SVC-ELISA at 16 hr was 46% with 100% specificity. The sensitivity of the SVC-FA at 16 hr was 63% with 99% specificity. Given the increased sensitivity, rapid display of CPE, and reduced cost and handling time of cell cultures, our laboratory found that rapid SVC-ELISA and SVC-FA procedures for HSV detection have no clinical or laboratory advantage.