Anti-nerve growth factor (anti-NGF) antibody has been shown to induce reactivation of latent herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) in vitro. We found that systemically administered anti-NGF induces ocular shedding of HSV-1 in vivo in rabbits harboring latent virus. Rabbits in which HSV-1 latency had been established were given intravenous injections of goat anti-NGF serum daily for 10 days beginning 42 days after primary viral infection. Tears were assayed for virus for 12 days beginning on the day of the first injection. All eight rabbits given high titer anti-NGF had infectious virus in their tears at least once during the 12-day period. Fifteen of 16 eyes were positive and the average duration of viral shedding for these eyes was 4.0 days. Latently infected rabbits receiving daily injections of nonimmune goat serum or saline for 10 consecutive days were controls. Only six of the 16 (38%) eyes from rabbits receiving nonimmune goat serum shed virus. Only one of 12 eyes from untreated rabbits shed virus. Sera from control rabbits had no detectable anti-NGF activity; titers in anti-NGF-treated rabbits ranged between 1:1000 and 1:10,000. NGF deprivation may act as a neuronal stressor and may share a common second messenger pathway with heat- or cold-stress induced reactivation of latent HSV-1.