Australian abalone production has been affected by outbreaks of abalone viral ganglioneuritis (AVG) caused by a herpesvirus (AbHV). In this study, we undertook experimental transmission trials by immersion to study the abalone immune response to infection with AbHV. Representative cellular and humoural immune parameters of abalone, including total haemocyte count (THC), superoxide anion (SO) and antiviral activity against herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), were examined in apparently healthy (sub-clinical) and moribund abalone after challenge. In the early infection, sub-clinical stage (days 1-3), THC was found to increase significantly in infected abalone. TaqMan qPCR confirmed 20.5% higher viral load in moribund abalone compared to apparently healthy abalone, indicating that the abundance of AbHV within abalone is linked to their clinical signs. At the clinical stage of infection, THC was significantly lower in moribund abalone, but increased in AbHV-exposed but apparently healthy abalone, in comparison to non-infected controls. SO was reduced in all abalone that were PCR-positive for AbHV. THC and SO level were found to be negatively correlated with the presence of AbHV in abalone, but no effect of AbVH exposure was observed on the haemolymph antiviral activity. These results suggest that abalone mount an initial cellular immune response to AbHV infection, but this response cannot be sustained under high viral loads, leading to mortality.