Goal of this study was to evaluate effects of Mao-to on development of myocarditis induced by encephalomyocarditis (EMC) virus in mice. Mice were randomly divided into five groups. Group N included uninfected controls (n = 18), while group A, B and C underwent intraperitoneal injection of EMC virus. Group A was administered oral saline from day 0 to day 4. Group B was administered oral Mao-to (500 mg−1 kg−1 day−1) from day 0 to day 4. Group C was administered Mao-to from day 2 to day 6. Group D was administered Mao-to from day 5 to day 10. Treated mice were followed for survival rates during 2 weeks after infection. Body weight (BW) and organ weights including heart (HW), lungs, thymus and spleen were examined on days 4, 6 and 14. Survival rate of group C (36.4%) was significantly improved compared with group A, B or D (0% of each, P < 0.05). HW and HW/BW ratio in group C was significantly (P < 0.05) lower than those in group A, B or D. Viral titers of hearts were significantly different among groups A, B and C. Cardiac expression in tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) was significantly reduced in group C in comparison with group A, B or D on day 6 by immunohistochemical study. Administration of Mao-to starting on day 2 improves mortality resulting from viral myocarditis in mice with reduced expression of cardiac TNF-α. These findings suggest that timing of Mao-to is crucial for preventing cardiac damage in mice with viral myocarditis.