To determine if acyclovir sodium prevents postoperative herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) recurrences, 21 rabbits harboring latent HSV-1 underwent uniocular autograft penetrating keratoplasty. All operated-on eyes were treated with topical and subconjunctival dexamethasone sodium phosphate. Ten of the 21 rabbits also received oral acyclovir (intravenous acyclovir was given at the time of surgery). Postoperatively, 9 (82%) of 11 operated-on eyes in rabbits not treated with acyclovir had positive HSV-1 ocular cultures. In acyclovir-treated rabbits, however, none of the 10 operated-on eyes had positive ocular cultures. In addition, 9 (82%) of 11 of the operated-on eyes had geographic ulcers develop in the non-acyclovir-treated rabbits, compared with 1 (10%) of 10 in the acyclovir-treated rabbits. Finally, stromal keratitis appeared in 5 (56%) of 9 of the operated-on eyes in non-acyclovir-treated rabbits and 1 (12%) of 8 of the operated-on eyes in acyclovir-treated rabbits. The results of this study indicate that acyclovir significantly lowered the incidence of HSV-1 ocular shedding, geographic ulceration, and stromal keratitis in a rabbit autograft penetrating keratoplasty model.