Herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) and, to a lesser extent, HSV-1 cause the majority of sexually transmitted genital ulcerative disease. No effective prophylactic vaccine is currently available. Replication-defective HSV stimulates immune responses in animals but produces no progeny virus, making it potentially useful as a safe form of live vaccine against HSV. Because it does not replicate and spread in the host, however, replication-defective virus may have relatively limited capacity to solicit professional antigen presentation. We previously demonstrated that in mice devoid of B7-1 and B7-2 costimulation molecules, replication-defective HSV-2 encoding B7-1 or B7-2 induces stronger immune responses and protection against HSV-2 challenge than immunization with replication-defective virus alone. Here, we vaccinated wild-type mice fully competent to express endogenous B7 costimulation molecules with replication-defective HSV-2 or replication-defective virus encoding B7-2 and compared their capacities to protect against vaginal HSV-2 infection and disease. Replication-defective virus encoding B7-2 induced more IFN-γ-producing CD4 T cells than did replication-defective virus alone. Immunization with B7-2-expressing virus decreased challenge virus replication in the vaginal mucosa, genital and neurological disease, and mortality more effectively than did immunization with the parental replication-defective virus. Prior immunization with B7-expressing, replication-defective virus also effectively suppressed infection of the nervous system compared to immunization with the parental virus. Thus, B7 costimulation molecules expressed at the site of HSV infection can enhance vaccine efficacy even in a fully immunocompetent host.