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Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) is the leading cause of virus-induced encephalitis; however, the viral genes that regulate encephalitis have not been well characterized. In this study, we tested whether the LAT (latency-associated transcript) locus regulates the frequency of encephalitis in male or female mice. Male BALB/c mice are more susceptible to HSV-1-induced encephalitis than age-matched female BALB/c mice. Deletion of LAT coding sequences reduced the frequency of encephalitis. A recombinant virus containing the first 1.5 kb of the LAT coding sequence induces levels of encephalitis in male BALB/c mice similar to those induced by wild-type HSV-1.