A live-attenuated vaccine for Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV), MP-12, has been developed recently by undirected, serial mutagenesis of a RVFV strain (ZH548) isolated during the 1977 epidemic in Egypt. In the present study, the mutations responsible for attenuation of this virus have been examined by analysis of reassortant viruses generated between the vaccine strain and a wild RVFV strain isolated in Senegal. Reassortant viruses were generated efficiently in multiply infected Vero cells, and were readily isolated without application of selective pressures. The origin of the S and M genomic RNA segments in each cloned reassortant virus was determined with monoclonal antibodies capable of differentiating the nucleocapsid protein (S segment marker) or G1 glycoprotein (M segment marker) of the parental strains. The L segment of the vaccine strain was found to contain a temperature-sensitive (ts) mutation, and the origin of the L segment in most reassortants could be inferred by analysis of their ts phenotype. Analysis of the virulence properties of selected reassortant viruses in mice demonstrated that virulence characteristics were under polygenic control, and that at least one mutation capable of independently attenuating the virus existed on each genome segment. The L and M RNA segments were also found to contain ts mutations. These findings suggest that reversion to virulence is unlikely, and further indicate that genetic reassortment with wild-type viruses during a vaccination programme in endemic areas would also be expected to yield attenuated variants.