A genetic screen of transgenic mouse strains, carrying multiple copies of an MPSV neo retroviral vector, has led to the identification of a recessive embryonic lethal mutation, termed 413.d. This mutation is associated with a single proviral insertion and when homozygous, results in the failure of the early postimplantation embryo at the gastrulation stage of development. Embryonic stem cell lines (ES cells) were derived from 413.d intercross embryos. Genotyping, with respect to the 413.d integration site, identified wild-type, heterozygous and homozygous ES cell lines. The differentiation abilities and developmental potential of the ES cell lines were assessed using a number of in vitro and in vivo assays. Results indicate that the ES cell lines, regardless of genotype, are pluripotent and can give rise to tissue and cell types derived from all three germ layers. Furthermore, analysis of midgestation conceptuses (10.5 p.c.) and adult chimeras generated by injecting mutant ES cells into host blastocysts, provides strong evidence that the mutant cells can contribute to all extraembryonic tissues and somatic tissues, as well as to functional germ cells. These results indicate that the homozygous mutant cells can be effectively 'rescued' by the presence of wild-type cells in a carrier embryo.