An immunofluorescence (FA) technique has been developed which can identify herpes simplex virus (HSV) in clinical specimens and also type the virus directly as type 1 or type 2. This test, first applied to cervicovaginal specimens obtained from 80 mice genitally inoculated with HSV, indicated a sensitivity approaching 80% in comparison to standard viral isolation methods. A similar sensitivity was found when the test was applied to 185 clinical specimens with adequate cells for staining, which were obtained from a variety of sites of patients with suspect herpetic infection. In only 1 of 6 specimens positive by both FA and culture methods was the HSV type wrongly identified by the FA technique. There were also six specimens which were negative by culture methods but positive by the FA test, indicating a specificity of 91%. It is likely that these are not instances of false-positive tests but of other factors which may have resulted in negative viral isolations by culture methods. As more specific reagents become available, it is anticipated that the FA technique will have wider usage in diagnostic laboratories for the identification and typing of HSV types 1 and 2.