We have used linker scanning and site-directed mutagenesis in an attempt to distinguish among the known functions of the duck hepatitis B virus large envelope protein, p36. We found that linker-encoded amino acid substitutions in at least one region of the pre-S envelope protein p36 produced defects in both the production of enveloped virus and the regulation of covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) synthesis. Most linker substitutions, typically in the 5' two-thirds of the pre-S region of the p36 gene did not affect either cccDNA regulation or enveloped virus production but did destroy the infection competence of the enveloped particles produced. Single amino acid substitutions of residues 128 and 131 demonstrated a similar correlation between defects in the ability of p36 to support enveloped virus production and to control cccDNA levels. We concluded from these studies that virus production and cccDNA regulation probably require a common activity of p36.