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Forty-one patients receiving remission induction chemotherapy with vincristine, adriamycin and prednisolone (VAP) for high grade lymphoma or acute lymphoblastic leukaemia were entered into a double blind, placebo controlled trial of oral acyclovir prophylaxis against herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection. The dose of acyclovir was 200 mg four times daily for the duration of chemotherapy (six weeks). Of the 40 evaluable patients, 20 were randomised to each arm. Prophylactic oral acyclovir significantly reduced the incidence of clinical HSV infection from 60% on placebo to 5% acyclovir (P less than 0.001), and the incidence of viral isolates from 70% on placebo to 5% on acyclovir (P less than 0.001).