A nested polymerase chain reaction-based method was used prospectively to detect herpesvirus DNA in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from 111 patients with AIDS, 39 of whom had a suspected diagnosis of cytomegalovirus (CMV)-associated neurologic disease (patients with encephalopathy, polyradiculopathy, or peripheral neuropathy) and 72 who had alternative diagnoses. CSF from 24 (62%) of the patients with suspected CMV-associated disease had detectable CMV DNA compared with only 8 (11%) of the patients with other diagnoses. Varicella-zoster virus DNA was detected in CSF from 3 patients (2 with myelitis and 1 with encephalitis), all of whom had recent cutaneous zoster. No CSF specimen contained detectable herpes simplex virus type 1 DNA, and none of the patients with myelitis had detectable herpes simplex virus type 2 DNA in CSF. This study demonstrates a significant association between detectable CMV DNA in CSF and suspected CMV-associated neurologic disease in patients with AIDS. © 1995 by The University of Chicago.