Four recombinant vaccinia viruses were engineered for expression of different portions of the Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) open reading frame. All four recombinant vaccinias contained the NS1 and NS2A genes, and each of these viruses specified the synthesis, glycosylation, and secretion of the nonstructural glycoprotein (NS1). All four recombinants also contained the E gene, and each virus correctly directed the synthesis and glycosylation of the envelope glycoprotein (E). Interestingly, two of these viruses (vP555 and vP650), which expressed the prM gene in addition to E and NS1, produced an extracellular hemagglutinin containing M and E that migrated in sucrose gradients similarly to the slowly-sedimenting hemagglutinin found in the culture fluid of JEV-infected cells. Immunization of 3-week-old mice with the recombinant viruses vP555 and vP658 resulted in immune responses to NS1, whereas only the virus that directed the synthesis of extracellular forms of E (vP555) induced an immune response to E. Both viruses provided protection against lethal challenge with JEV. Animals given two inoculations with vP555 were fully protected from greater than 10,000 LD50 of JEV. This high level of protection was correlated with the production of high titers of neutralizing and hemagglutination-inhibiting antibodies.