The outcome of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) infection depends upon the interplay of both host and viral factors. During lytic infection, HSV-1 causes a loss of immunofluorescent staining of discrete nuclear domains (ND10). This elimination of the host's ND10 staining occurs under conditions that allow only HSV-1 immediate early viral gene expression. Western blot analysis indicates that the loss of ND10 staining is due to ND10 redistribution, rather than protein degradation or turnover. When deletion mutants of all of the HSV-1 immediate early genes were tested, only infection with an immediate early gene 1 product (ICP0) deletion mutant, d11403, was unable to eliminate ND10 antigen staining. Also, ICP0 transiently colocalized with ND10 antigens, after which ND10 antigens became undetectable. At late times during infection with d11403, the host ND10 antigens were retained in virus-induced structures which were never observed during wild-type HSV-1 infection. These results suggested that ICP0 may be directly involved in the modification of the host nuclear domain. Infection with an adenovirus recombinant that expressed ICP0 demonstrated that in the absence of other HSV-1 proteins ICP0 was sufficient for the change in nuclear distribution of host antigens located at ND10. We postulate that the trans-activation function of ICP0 during viral replication may be mediated by replacing, modifying or reorganizing nuclear host factors.