The development of canarypox virus (CPV) recombinants expressing the hemagglutinin (HA) and fusion (F) glycoproteins of measles virus (MV) is described. Inoculation of the CPV-MV recombinants into avian or nonavian tissue culture substrates led to the expression of authentic MVF and MVHA as determined by radioimmunoprecipitation and surface immunofluorescence. In contrast to avian-derived tissue culture, no productive replication of the CPV recombinant was evident in tissue culture cells derived from nonavian origin. On inoculation of dogs, a species restricted for avipoxvirus replication, the recombinants elicited a protective immune response against a lethal canine distemper virus (CDV) challenge. The level of MV neutralizing antibodies and the level of protection induced against CDV challenge achieved by the host-restricted CPV vector were equivalent to that obtained by vaccinia virus vectors expressing the same MV antigens.