Mouse hepatitis virus (MHV) is a positive-strand RNA virus that causes an acute encephalomyelitis that later resolves into a chronic fulminating demyelinating disease. Cytokine production, chemokine secretion, and immune cell infiltration into the central nervous system are critical to control viral replication during acute infection. Despite potent antiviral T-lymphocyte activity, sterile immunity is not achieved, and MHV chronically persists within oligodendrocytes. Continued infiltration and activation of the immune system, a result of the lingering viral antigen and RNA within oligodendrocytes, lead directly to the development of an immune-mediated demyelination that bears remarkable similarities, both clinically and histologically, to the human demyelinating disease multiple sclerosis. MHV offers a unique model system for studying host defense during acute viral infection and immune-mediated demyelination during chronic infection.