A DNA hybridization technique, using the polyrepetitive EcoRI L-fragment of bovid herpesvirus (BHV-4) as a probe, was developed to determine virus distribution in the tissues of BHV-4-infected pregnant rabbits. The cloned fragment did not react with the DNA of rabbits or of other herpesviruses, e.g., infectious bovine rhinotracheitis, bovine herpes virus mammillitis, and pseudorabies viruses. The detection limit was 10-13g of DNA or approximately 600 genome equivalents of viral DNA, which indicates a level of sensitivity of one viral genome per 500 cells in our assay. Using conventional cell culture techniques, the virus was isolated from only one of fifteen infected rabbits and a few aborted fetuses. However, when organ culture or dot blot hybridization was used, BHV-4 was detected in all rabbits and their fetuses. Viral DNA was detected by DNA hybridization in spleen, ovary, uterus, lung, liver, salivary gland, lymph node, and placentome of adult rabbits and in a composite of fetal tissues. When polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was used, the virus was detected in several organs (including the nervous tissues) that were found negative by other techniques. These results indicate that blot hybridization and PCR are more sensitive than conventional techniques for studying the pathogenesis of BHV-4 in animals. The data obtained by these methods suggest that BHV-4 may be maintained in infected rabbits in a latent state in a variety of tissues including the nervous system.