The contribution of rabies virus (RV) glycoprotein (G) in viral distribution in the brain was examined by immunohistochemistry following stereotaxic inoculation into the rat hippocampus. Viruses used in this study include the highly neuroinvasive challenge virus standard strains (CVS-N2C and CVS-B2C) and the nonneuroinvasive attenuated SN-10 strain, as well as SN-10-derived recombinant viruses expressing the G gene from CVS-N2C (RN2C) or CVS-B2C (RB2C). The distribution of recombinant viruses in the brain was similar to those of the parental viruses from which the G was derived. For example, while CVS-B2C- and RB2C-infected neurons were seen preferentially in the hippocampus, cortex, and hypothalamus, CVS-N2C- and RN2C-infected neurons were preferentially found in the hippocampus, cortex, and thalamus. SN-10 infected efficiently almost all the brain regions. To further study the role of the RV G in virus spreading, we examined the distribution of RV antigen in brains infected with a recombinant RV in which the SN-10 G was replaced with vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) G (SN-10-VG) was examined. The spreading of SN-10-VG to the cortex and the thalamus was drastically reduced, but the number of infected neurons in hippocampus and hypothalamus, particularly the paraventricular nucleus, was similar to the SN-10 virus. This pattern of spreading resembles that of VSV. Together, our data demonstrate that it is the G protein that determines the distribution pattern of RV in the brain.