Knowledge regarding the pathogenesis of viral encephalitis, defined as inflammation and destruction of the central nervous system (CNS) from viral infection and the resulting immune response, has improved with advances in molecular biology techniques and recent advances in immunology and neuroscience research. An increasingly complex understanding has developed with regard to viral CNS infection. In addition to advances in viral genetics exploring increased viral spread and neurovirulence, improved understanding from research on neurochemistry, neurodevelopment, and cytokine expression in the CNS has led to new hypotheses regarding the mechanism of CNS damage during viral CNS infection. This review explores three advances in the understanding of viral encephalitis in the past few years: 1) the relationship between viral load and extent of viral CNS disease, 2) chemokines and their role in the CNS inflammatory response as well as in the pathogenesis of encephalitis, and 3) secondary damage from the release of neurotoxins during encephalitis. By examining this research, the reviewers intend to introduce novel therapeutic modalities that are developing for the management of patients with viral encephalitis beyond the timely use of antiviral therapy.