The compound purified from the fruit of Melia azedarach exerted an antiviral effect on herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) in Vero cells. It was identified as 28-deacetylsendanin (28-DAS). The 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) of 28-DAS was 1.46 μg/ml without cytotoxicity at 400 μg/ml on Vero cells. Electron microscopy showed that low electron-dense cores of newly synthesized nucleocapsids remained in swollen nuclei and no extracellular virus particles were observed at 15 h p.i. Consistent with this result, it was confirmed by a plaque assay that few infectious progeny viruses were released from the 28-DAS-treated virus-infected cells at 24 h p.i. Intracellular viruses in 28-DAS-treated virus-infected cells were 23% of untreated and infected cells. The synthesis of thymidine kinase (TK) was reduced by 28-DAS at early stage. In conclusion, 28-DAS inhibited the replication of HSV-1, reduced the synthesis of HSV-1 TK, and led to the formation of defective nucleocapsids. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science B.V.