The intracellular distributions of three herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) capsid proteins, VP23, VP5 and VP22a, were examined using vaccinia virus and plasmid expression systems. During infection of cells with HSV-1 wild-type virus, all three proteins were predominantly located in the nucleus, which is the site of capsid assembly. However, when expressed in the absence of any other HSV-1 proteins, although VP22a was found exclusively in the nucleus as expected, VP5 and VP23 were distributed throughout the cell. Thus nuclear localization is not an intrinsic property of these proteins but must be mediated by one or more HSV-1-induced proteins. Co-expression experiments demonstrated that VP5 was efficiently transported to the nucleus in the presence of VP22a, but the distribution of VP23 was unaffected by the presence of either or both of the other two proteins.