The I5L gene is one of approximately 90 genes that are conserved throughout the chordopoxvirus family, and hence are presumed to play vital roles in the poxvirus life cycle. Previous work had indicated that the VP13 protein, a component of the virion membrane, was encoded by the I5L gene, but no additional studies had been reported. Using a recombinant virus that encodes an I5 protein fused to a V5 epitope tag at the endogenous locus (vI5V5), we show here that the I5 protein is expressed as a post-replicative gene and that the approximately 9 kDa protein does not appear to be phosphorylated in vivo. I5 does not appear to traffic to any cellular organelle, but ultrastructural and biochemical analyses indicate that I5 is associated with the membranous components of assembling and mature virions. Intact virions can be labeled with anti-V5 antibody as assessed by immunoelectron microscopy, indicating that the C' terminus of the protein is exposed on the virion surface. Using a recombinant virus which encodes only a TET-regulated copy of the I5V5 gene (vDeltaindI5V5), or one in which the I5 locus has been deleted (vDeltaI5), we also show that I5 is dispensable for replication in tissue culture. Neither plaque size nor the viral yield produced in BSC40 cells or primary human fibroblasts are affected by the absence of I5 expression.