We have determined the complete DNA sequence of the short unique region in the genome of herpes simplex virus type 1, strain 17, and have interpreted it in terms of messenger RNAs and encoded proteins. The sequence contains variable regions whose length differs between DNA clones. The clones used for most of the analysis gave a short unique length of 12,979 base-pairs. We consider that this region contains 12 genes, which are expressed by mRNAs which have separate promoters, but may share 3'-termination sites, so that all but two mRNAs belong to one of four 3'-coterminal "families": 79% of the sequence is considered to be polypeptide coding. One pair of genes has an extensive out-of-frame overlap of coding sequences. The proteins encoded in the short unique region include two immediate-early species, two virion surface glycoproteins, and a DNA-binding species. Six of the genes have little or no previous characterization. From the nature of the amino acid sequences predicted for their encoded proteins, we deduce that several of these proteins may be membrane-associated.