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Dendritic cells (DC) are critical for stimulation of naive T cells. Little is known about the effect of herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) infection on DC structure or function or if the observed effects of HSV-1 on human DC are reproduced in murine DC. Here, we demonstrate that by 12 h postinfection, wild-type (wt) HSV-2 (186) abortively infected murine bone marrow-derived DC and induced early cell death compared to UV-inactivated HSV-2 or mock-infected DC. HSV-2-induced loss of DC viability was more rapid than that induced by HSV-1 and was due, in part, to apoptosis, as shown by TEM, caspase-3 activation, and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dCTP biotin nick end labeling. HSV induced type-specific changes in the murine DC immunophenotype. At 12 h postinfection, wt HSV-2 upregulated DC major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II expression, and in contrast to UV-inactivated HSV-2, downregulated expression of MHC class I, but it had no effect on surface CD40, CD80, or CD86. Wt HSV-1 (MC-1) induced only CD40 upregulation. More-profound effects on the DC immunophenotype were observed in HSV-2-infected neonatal DC. Wt HSV of either serotype impaired murine DC-induced T-cell alloproliferation and lipopolysaccharideinduced DC interleukin-12 secretion. Thus, there are marked differences in the levels of HSV-induced cytolysis in DC according to the HSV serotype, although HSV-2 displays immunomodulatory effects on the DC immunophenotype and function similar to those of HSV-1.