Using the decision analysis technique and multivariate regression methods, a statistical model was established to define the utility of brain biopsy for diagnostic evaluation of patients with suspected herpes simplex encephalitis (HSE). Two strategies were compared: strategy I, brain biopsy with acyclovir (ACV) treatment for 10 days in biopsy-positive patients, and strategy II, ACV therapy without brain biopsy. Strategy I resulted in a greater 6-month survival rate when the likelihood of patients having HSE was less than 70%. Based on the current estimated prevalence of HSE (for patients with suspected HSE) of 35%, strategy I showed a slight advantage of a 3.2% increase in 6-month survival rate. An individual patient's chance of a positive brain biopsy can be predicted using a mathematical equation based on several important clinical assessments. This equation in conjunction with the decision analysis is a useful guide for the clinical management of patients with regard to brain biopsy.