This communication describes our ongoing studies of the interaction of the mouse host and vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV). When VSV is applied to the nasal neuroepithelium, it initially replicates in olfactory receptor neurons, and is transmitted along the olfactory nerve to the central nervous system (CNS) within 12 hours. In the olfactory bulb, the virus replicates invasively through the layers of the olfactory bulb, reaching the olfactory ventricle by day 4-5 post infection, and the hindbrain by day 8 post infection. In mice, infection may result in a 50% mortality rate. The crucial host innate and specific immune responses responsible for restricting viral propagation and caudal spread of the virus will be discussed. The efficacy of interleukin-12 (IL-12) treatment for enhanced viral clearance and promotion of host recovery are described along with the implications for treatment of human encephalitis. The hosts' response to infection is also regulated by the sex of the host, and the age at infection. The role of specific mucosal humoral immunity and systemic cellular immunity in prevention of infection are described.