Reactivation of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) in the vestibular ganglion (VG) is the suspected cause of vestibular neuritis (VN). Recent studies reported the presence of HSV-1 DNA not only in human VGs but also in vestibular nuclei, a finding that indicates the possibility of viral migration to the human vestibular labyrinth. Distribution of HSV-1 DNA was determined in geniculate ganglia, VGs, semicircular canals, and macula organs of 21 randomly obtained human temporal bones by nested PCR. Viral DNA was detected in 48% of the labyrinths, 62% of the VGs, and 57% of the geniculate ganglia. The potential significance of this finding is twofold: (1) Inflammation in VN could also involve the labyrinth and thereby cause acute unilateral vestibular deafferentation. (2) As benign paroxysmal positional vertigo often occurs in patients who have had VN, it could also be a sequel of viral labyrinthitis. Copyright (C) 2001 S. Karger AG, Basel.