The propagation of pseudorabies virus (PrV) in the mouse nervous system was studied after intranasal inoculation of a PrV mutant expressing beta-galactosidase after insertion of the Escherichia coli Lac-Z gene into the gene encoding the nonstructural, nonessential glycoprotein gG. This allowed rapid detection of infected cells by a single step reaction with the substrate X-gal. The gG-beta-gal+ mutant behaved like the wild-type Kaplan strain of origin. The incubation period was very short and the animals did not survive more than 52 hr after inoculation. In the nasal cavity, the virus infected almost exclusively the respiratory epithelium. The virus propagated to the nervous system via three neuronal pathways: (i) the trigeminal route, with primary infection in the trigeminal ganglion followed by anterograde transneuronal transfer to the spinal trigeminal nucleus; (ii) the sympathetic route, with a first cycle of replication in the superior cervical ganglion and retrograde transneuronal transfer to sympathetic preganglionic neurons in the intermediolateral nucleus in the spinal cord; and (iii) the parasympathetic route, with primary infection in the pterygopalatine ganglion, followed by retrograde transneuronal transfer and replication in the superior salivatory nucleus. In contrast, the olfactory system was rarely found infected, probably because of the short survival of the animals.