Restriction endonuclease analysis of varicella-zoster virus (VZV) DNA has been used in unraveling the complex epidemiology of VZV infections in individuals immunized with a live, attenuated varicella virus vaccine. Early rashes appearing within the first six weeks after vaccination are invariably due to vaccine virus. True breakthrough infections with wild-type VZV also occur in vaccinees. Five cases of zoster have been seen in leukemic children vaccinated while in remission. One case appeared 22 months after vaccination in the same general area as the inoculation. The virus isolated was vaccine derived. A second case of zoster appeared in a dermatome unrelated to the sites of vaccination approximately 19 months after apparently natural varicella. This virus was wild type. Vaccine virus can therefore establish latency and can later reactivate as herpes zoster.