Herpes simplex virus infection of the eye can result in a blinding inflammatory lesion that is a T cell mediated immunopathological reaction. A prominent early event following HSV infection is neutrophil invasion of the corneal stroma. These cells may be involved in viral clearance and may influence the nature of the anti HSV T cell response which subsequently occurs. This article measures the expression of some key molecules which could participate in viral clearance and immune modulation. Using RT-PCR and in-situ hybridization, both corneal and peritoneal neutrophils were shown to be sources of iNOS and TNF alpha molecules which likely contribute to antiviral activity. Neutrophils also produce the cytokine IL-12, a key molecule which modulates the CD4+ T cell response to a type which mediates immunopathology. The present results indicate that neutrophils play an important role in the pathogenesis of herpetic ocular lesions.