Immunization with recombinant vaccinia viruses that specified the synthesis of Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) glycoproteins protected mice from a lethal intraperitoneal challenge with JEV. Recombinants which coexpressed the genes for the structural glycoproteins, prM and E, elicited high levels of neutralizing (NEUT) and hemagglutination inhibiting (HAI) antibodies in mice and protected mice from a lethal challenge by JEV. Recombinants expressing only the gene for the nonstructural glycoprotein, NS1, induced antibodies to NS1 but provided low levels of protection from a similar challenge dose of JEV. Antibodies to the NS3 protein in postchallenge sera, representing the degree of infection with challenge virus, were inversely correlated to NEUT and HAI titers and levels of protection. These results indicate that although vaccinia recombinants expressing NS1 can provide some protection from lethal JEV infection, recombinants expressing prM and E elicited higher levels of protective immunity.