A recombinant cell line (SOgE) was established, which was derived from the permanent quail muscle cell line QM7 and constitutively expressed the glycoprotein E (gE) gene of Marek's disease virus serotype 1 (MDV-1). The SOgE cell line supported growth of virulent (RB-1B) and vaccine (CVI988, 584Ap80C) MDV-1 strains at a level comparable with that of primary chicken embryo cells (CEC). The SOgE cell line was used to produce a vaccine against Marek's disease. Chickens were immunized at 1 day old with 10(3) p.f.u. CVI988 produced on either CEC or SOgE cells. Challenge infection was performed at day 12 with hypervirulent Italian MDV-1 strain EU1. Whereas 7/7 or 6/6 animals, respectively, immunized with SOgE or QM7 cells alone developed Marek's disease, only 1/8 animals from both CVI988-immunized groups exhibited signs of disease, suggesting that SOgE cells are a valuable permanent cell culture system for MDV-1 vaccine production.