Of the commonly considered congenital infections, those caused by cytomegalovirus (CMV), syphilis, and herpes simplex virus (HSV) are frequently (CMV, HSV) or exclusively (syphilis) acquired sexually by the mother, with subsequent transmission to the developing fetus. Of the other commonly considered congenital infections, including rubella and toxoplasma infections, the mother is exposed to the infectious agent via interpersonal or environmental contacts. Unlike each of these other pathogens, which are transmitted transplacentally to the developing fetus following maternal infection though, HSV usually is transmitted perinatally as the neonate is exposed to the virus during passage through an infected birth canal. This difference in timing of acquisition of infection has had important consequence in the therapeutic advances achieved during the last 30 years in the management of neonatal HSV infections. Because the time period between the acquisition of infection and initiation of effective antiviral therapy is shorter in neonatal herpes than in congenital toxoplasmosis or CMV infections, the outcomes of therapy have the potential to be markedly different. This article will summarize the current state of neonatal HSV disease presentation, diagnosis, and management. © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.