A recombinant vaccinia virus in which the transcription of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (BRU isolate) env gene is driven by the 11K late vaccinia promoter yields about 10-fold higher amounts of gp160 env protein upon infection of monkey cells than does a recombinant in which gp160 is expressed using the 7.5K early-late promoter. The gp160 was purified from detergent lysates of infected cells by lentil lectin affinity chromatography followed by immunoaffinity chromatography, and was obtained in yields of 1-2 mg/10(9) cells of material estimated to be about 70% pure. Pairs of rabbits were immunized with purified gp160 using either one of five different adjuvants or an immunostimulating complex. In all cases a substantial humoral immune response was obtained after boosting, including an activity that neutralized the homologous (BRU) isolate of HIV-1. In some cases, this activity also neutralized two distantly related isolates, SF2 and MN.