Recently three strains of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), which did not react with Micro Trak Herpes (Syva Co.), were isolated by us from a patient with recurrent herpetic keratitis. In this study we characterized these strains of HSV-1 and found them to be HSV-1 gC- mutants which are very rare isolates from humans. The properties of the HSV-1 strains regarding plaque morphology on Vero cells and chick embryo fibroblasts and viral DNA analysis were the same as those of the usual HSV-1 strains. An immunofluorescence study using anti-gC-1 monoclonal antibody and SDS-PAGE analysis of radiolabeled viral glycoproteins showed that these strains are deficient in gC-1. They were virulent for mice and sensitive to acyclovir and bromovinyldeoxyuridine. Furthermore the infectivity of the strains was inactivated by complement though the phenomenon was not observed in the usual HSV-1 strains. This finding suggests that protection from damages by complement is an important function of gC. In keratitis the effects of complement are thought to be minimal because of the scanty blood supply and this may be the reason why these strains were isolated from the cornea.