Background aims. Dendritic cells (DCs) are the most potent antigen presenting cells of the immune system and have been under intense study with regard to their use in immunotherapy against cancer and infectious disease agents. In the present study, DCs were employed to assess their value in protection. against live virus challenge in an experimental model using lethal and latent herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection in Balb/c mice. Methods. DCs obtained ex vivo in the presence of granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor and interleukin-4 were loaded with HSV-1 proteins (DC/HSV-1 vaccine). Groups of mice were vaccinated twice, 7 days apart, via subcutaneous, intraperitoneal or intramuscular routes with DC/HSV-1 and with mock (DC without virus protein) and positive (alum adjuvanted HSV-1 proteins [HSV-1/ALH]) control vaccines. After measuring anti-HSV-1 antibody levels in blood samples, mice were given live HSV-1 intraperitoneally or via ear pinna to assess the protection level of the vaccines with respect to lethal or latent infection challenge. Results. Intramuscular, but not subcutaneous or intraperitoneal, administration of DC/HSV-1 vaccine provided complete protection against lethal challenge and establishment of latent infection as assessed by death and virus recovery from the trigeminal ganglia. It was also shown that the immunity was not associated with antibody production because DC/HSV-1 vaccine, as opposed to HSV-1/ALH vaccine, produced very little, if any, HSV-1-specific antibody. Conclusions. Overall, our results may have some impact on the design of vaccines against genital HSV as well as chronic viral infections such as hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus and human immunodeficiency virus.