Engineered derivatives of Autographa californica multiple nucleocapsid nuclear polyhedrosis virus (AcMNPV) possessing a unique restriction site provide a source of viral DNA that can be linearized by digestion with a specific endonuclease. Circular or linearized DNA from two such viruses were compared in terms of their infectivity and recombinogenic activities. The linear forms were 15- to 150-fold less infectious than the corresponding circular forms, when transfected into Spodoptera frugiperda cells using the calcium phosphate method. Linear viral DNA was, however, proficient at recombination on co-transfection with an appropriate transfer vector. Up to 30% of the progeny viruses were recombinant, a 10-fold higher fraction of recombinants than was obtained from co-transfections with circular AcMNPV DNA. The isolation of a recombinant baculovirus expression vector from any of the AcMNPV transfer vectors currently in use can thus be facilitated by linearization of the viral DNA at the appropriate location.