The cornea is a complex sensory organ that must maintain its transparency for optimal vision. Infections such as with herpes simplex virus can result in blinding immunoinflammatory reactions referred to as herpes stromal keratitis (HSK). In this review we discuss the pathogenesis of HSK referring to work mainly done using animal model systems. We briefly discuss the role of multiple cell types and soluble mediators but focus on the critical role of corneal vascularization (CV) in contributing to corneal damage. We describe how VEGF and other angiogenic molecules are induced following infection and discuss the many ways by which CV can be controlled. Speculations are made regarding future approaches that could improve the management of HSK.