Type I interferons are critical antiviral cytokines produced following herpes simplex virus type-1 (HSV-1) infection that act to inhibit viral spread. In the present study, we identify HSV-infected and adjacent uninfected corneal epithelial cells as the source of interferon-α. We also report mice deficient in the A1 chain of the type I IFN receptor (CD118(-/-)) are extremely sensitive to ocular infection with low doses (100 PFU) of HSV-1 as seen by significantly elevated viral titers in the cornea compared to wild type (WT) controls. The enhanced susceptibility correlated with a loss of CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cell recruitment and aberrant chemokine production in the cornea despite mounting an adaptive immune response in the draining mandibular lymph node of CD118(-/-) mice. Taken together, these results highlight the importance of IFN production in both the innate immune response as well as eliciting chemokine production required to facilitate adaptive immune cell trafficking.