Five patients with recurrent herpes simplex of the skin had unusual neuralgic pains preceding the eruptions by 24 hours or more. Although prodromal neuralgia is an uncommon feature of recurrent herpes, about 15 similar cases have been reported previously. The pain is often diffuse and aching in character and, in contrast with herpes zoster, leaves no sensory or motor deficit. Stereotyped cycles of pain and herpes simplex may occur repeatedly for as long as 20 years. The fact that pain precedes the eruption supports the theory that a persistent latent infection of sensory ganglia is activated during recurrences of herpes simplex.