The gene encoding the canine herpesvirus (CHV) glycoprotein C (gC) homologue has been identified by sequence homology analyses with other well studied herpesviruses. Previously, we have identified three CHV glycoproteins, gp145/112, gp80 and gp47 using a panel of monoclonal antibodies (MAbs). To determine which CHV glycoprotein corresponds to gC, a recombinant baculovirus which contains the putative CHV gC structural gene under the baculovirus polyhedrin promoter was constructed. The recombinant baculovirus expressed gC-related polypeptides (44-62 kDa), which reacted only with MAbs against CHV gp80, indicating that the previously identified CHV gp80 is the translation product of the gC gene. The baculovirus expressed gC was glycosylated and transported to the surface of infected cells. At least seven neutralizing epitopes were conserved on the gC produced in insect cells. It was found that the recombinant baculovirus infected cells adsorbed murine erythrocytes as is the case for CHV-infected cells. The hemadsorption activity was inhibited by heparin, indicating that the CHV gC binds to heparan sulfate on the surface of murine erythrocytes. Mice immunized with the recombinant gC produced strong neutralizing antibodies. Our results suggest that CHV gC produced in insect cells may be useful as a subunit vaccine to control CHV infections.