Sindbis (SIN) replicon virus was used to express chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) in Aedes albopictus (C6/36) cells and Aedes triseriatus mosquitoes. RNA transcribed in vitro from a SIN replicon plasmid (pSINrep5/CAT) and from SIN virus helper constructs (pDH-EB or pDH(26S)5'SIN) was coelectroporated into BHK-21 cells to generate replicon viruses, designated rep5/CAT/EB and rep5/CAT/26S. C6/36 cells infected with rep5/CAT/EB or rep5/CAT/26S virus at a multiplicity of infection of 3, expressed 3.8 x 10(6) and 6.0 x 10(6) CAT trimers per cell, respectively, at 2 days postinfection (pi). Both viruses attained peak titers by Day 2 pi. Adult female A. triseriatus mosquitoes were intrathoracically inoculated with 7 x 10(4) IFU rep5/CAT/EB or 1 x 10(5) IFU rep5/CAT/26S virus. Virus titers remained at approximately 10(5) IFU/ml through Day 2 pi and decreased roughly 1 log by Day 10 pi. CAT enzyme activity was detected 2 days pi (rep5/CAT/EB, 1.49 x 10(-4) units CAT/10 micrograms protein; rep5/CAT/26S, 2.03 x 10(-5) units CAT/10 micrograms protein) and remained near these levels through Day 10 pi. CAT was detected in the head, salivary glands, midgut, and ovaries of inoculated mosquitoes by indirect immunofluorescence or CAT activity assays. These results suggest that packaged replicon viruses can be useful for expression of heterologous genes in mosquito cells and whole mosquitoes.