Deletion mutants within the Py DNA region between the replication origin and the beginning of late protein coding sequences have been constructed and analysed for viability, early gene expression and viral DNA replication. Assay of replicative competence was facilitated by the use of Py transformed mouse cells (COP lines) which express functional large T-protein but contain no free viral DNA. Viable mutants defined three new nonessential regions of the genome. Certain deletions spanning the PvuII site at nt 5130 (67.4 mu) were unable to express early genes and had a cis-acting defect in DNA replication. Other mutants had intermediate phenotypes. Relevance of these results to eucaryotic "enhancer" elements is discussed.