The gene encoding the secreted alkaline protease, a suspected virulence factor of Aspergillus fumigatus, was inactivated by gene disruption. The disruption was performed by transformation of a pathogenic strain of the fungus with a linear DNA fragment carrying the gene from which the central part was replaced by the selectable Escherichia coli hygromycin B dominant resistance marker. Two transformants were shown to produce no alkaline protease. Restriction fragment analysis of the DNA of these two transformants was consistent for chromosomal integration of the disrupted gene by homologous recombination. Both isogenic alkaline protease-producing and non-producing A. fumigatus strains invaded lung tissues, causing comparable mortality in immunosuppressed mice. A significant residual proteolytic activity observed in alkaline protease non-producing strain cultures could play a role in the invasion of the tissues by the fungus.