A vaccinia virus variant, LC16m8, and its parental Lister (Elstree) strain (LO) were employed to identify the viral gene(s) responsible for plaque size and host range: the large-plaque-forming LO strain but not the small-plaque-forming LC16m8 strain can actively proliferate in Vero (YTV) cells. Previously, we suggested that some particular gene(s) present in the HindIII D fragment of LO DNA was responsible for these biological activities. In the present experiment, the mapping of the putative gene was done by introducing various subfragments of the HindIII D fragment of LO DNA into the gene of LC16m8 strain and screening of the resultant virus variants for the capability of forming large plaques or of proliferating well in Vero cells. The results indicated that an open reading frame (called ps/hr gene) in LO HindIII D fragment was responsible for either plaque size or host range. This gene encoded a polypeptide of 317 amino acids related to the regulators of complement activation (RCA) gene family of mammals. Thus, the present genetic analysis provided direct evidence for a previously unrecognized function of RCA-related proteins encoded by the virus.