The human immunodeficiency virus type 2 gag precursor protein, pr41, self assembles as virus-like particles (VLP) when the gag gene is expressed in insect cells. To map the functional domains for HIV-2 gag VLP formation, a series of deletion mutants was constructed by removing sequentially the C-terminal region of HIV-2 gag precursor protein and expressing the truncated gag genes in SF9 insect cells by means of recombinant baculoviruses. We found that deletion of up to 143 amino acids at the C-terminus of HIV-2 gag, leaving 376 amino acids at the N-terminus of the protein, did not prevent VLP formation. However, an additional four amino acids deletion from the C-terminus, which represents 372 amino acids at the N-terminus, made gag protein fail to form VLP. There is a proline-rich region at amino acid positions 372 and 377 of HIV-2 gag. To analyze the role of these proline residues, we generated five mutants in which proline was changed sequentially into leucine. Our results showed that replacement of one or two prolines did not stop gag VLP formation, whereas replacement of all three prolines by leucine residues completely abolished VLP assembly. Our data demonstrate that the C-terminal p12 region of HIV-2 gag precursor protein and the zinc finger domain are dispensable for gag VLP assembly, but the presence of at least one of the three proline residues located between amino acid positions 372 and 377 of HIV-2NIH-Z is required.