The Herpes simplex virus genome encodes 75 proteins. Of these, only 37 are required for growth of the virus in culture. These essential genes encode functions related to entry of virus into cells, regulation of gene expression and replication and packaging of viral DNA into virions. The genes that are not essential for replication in culture play a key role in multiplication of the virus and its transfer from cell to cell, in complementing cellular functions lost as a consequence of viral replication, in fine-tuning viral gene expression and in overcoming the host's response to infection. No virally encoded functions are required for establishment of the latent state, but a full complement of viral genes is essential for efficient reactivation of the virus from the latent state.