We describe a method to introduce site-specific mutations into the genome of Autographa californica nuclear polyhedrosis virus. Specifically, the A. californica nuclear polyhedrosis virus gene for polyhedrin, the major protein that forms viral occlusions in infected cells, was mutagenized by introducing deletions into the cloned DNA fragment containing the gene. The mutagenized polyhedrin gene was transferred to the intact viral DNA by mixing fragment and viral DNAs, cotransfecting Spodoptera frugiperda cells, and screening for viral recombinants that had undergone allelic exchange. Recombinant viruses with mutant polyhedrin genes were obtained by selecting the progeny virus that did not produce viral occlusions in infected cells (occlusion-negative mutants). Analyses of occlusion-negative mutants demonstrated that the polyhedrin gene was not essential for the production of infectious virus and that deletion of certain sequences within the gene did not alter the control, or decrease the level of expression, of polyhedrin. An early viral protein of 25,000 molecular weight was apparently not essential for virus replication in vitro, as the synthesis of this protein was not detected in cells infected with a mutant virus.