A herpes-like virus is demonstrated for the first time to be associated with high mortality rates in maricultured abalone Haliotis diversicolor supertexta in Taiwan. Histopathology of moribund abalone indicated that the nerve system was the primary target tissue. The lesions were characterised by tissue necrosis accompanied with infiltration of haemocytes. Electron microscopic examination demonstrated viral particles within the degenerated cerebral ganglion cells. The viruses were hexagonal, approximately 100 nm in diameter and had a single coat. Some viral particles contained a dense nucleoid, while others were empty. The ultrastructure and morphogenesis of the virus particles were consistent with those of the herpesvirus described from the oyster Crassostrea virginica. Experimental infection using supernatant collected from minced visceral organs and muscle of moribund abalone induced 100% mortality through both intramuscular injection and bath treatments.