Eleven cloned North American pseudorabies virus (PRV) strains and the European vaccine strains K and BUK were characterized by their thermal sensitivity and rabbit virulence markers. Heat sensitivity of the strains and isolates ranged from the highly heat resistant strain K, to the extremely heat labile strain BUK and isolate Be. The inactivation curves of each virus were transformed to the logarithmic scale and their standardized slopes and predicted virus survival values at 30 minutes were plotted against each other. The result was a distribution of points that represented a thermal sensitivity spectrum (TSS). Virus strains were subsequently categorized into 1 of 3 groups according to their position in the TSS. Viruses were also categorized into three groups according to their ability to clinically infect rabbits, their ability to produce pruritus and the time required to kill. When individual strains were described according to their marker profiles, 5 of 9 possible marker combinations were revealed. The 2 vaccine strains were each described by separate profiles. Virulent field isolates were characterized by 1 of 3 different profiles.