The herpesviridae are a large family of DNA viruses with large and complicated genomes. Genetic manipulation and the generation of recombinant viruses have been extremely difficult. However, herpesvirus bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) that were developed approximately 10 years ago have become useful and powerful genetic tools for generating recombinant viruses to study the biology and pathogenesis of herpesviruses. For example, BAC-directed deletion mutants are commonly used to determine the function and essentiality of viral genes. In this paper, we discuss the creation of herpesvirus BACs, functional analyses of herpesvirus mutants, and future applications for studies of herpesviruses. We describe commonly used methods to create and mutate herpesvirus BACs (such as site-directed mutagenesis and transposon mutagenesis). We also evaluate the potential future uses of viral BACs, including vaccine development and gene therapy.