The safety of an Aujeszky's disease virus vaccine based on strain 783, a deletion mutant which does not express glycoprotein I and thymidine kinase, was assessed in pigs, calves and sheep. Four-day-old piglets which were inoculated intranasally and intramuscularly with 10(7) plaque forming units (PFU) developed only slight depression and fever. The virus was transmitted to a sentinel piglet. Six weeks after inoculation, the pigs were injected with high doses of corticosteroids in an attempt to reactivate the vaccine virus. The pigs did not shed Aujeszky's disease virus, did not develop a rise in virus neutralising antibody titres and sentinel pigs remained seronegative to Aujeszky's disease virus. Strain 783 was passaged in two series of three- to five-day old piglets, but after the third and fourth passages virus could no longer be recovered. Pregnant sows were inoculated with 10(7) PFU of virus strain 783 around day 35 or on day 85 of pregnancy, and their fetuses and piglets were assayed for Aujeszky's disease virus and antibodies against Aujeszky's disease virus. No evidence was found for transplacental transmission of the virus. Calves and sheep were given 10(7) PFU of virus strain 783 intranasally or intramuscularly; they survived and did not develop clinical signs of Aujeszky's disease. All the sheep and the calves inoculated intramuscularly developed neutralising antibodies to Aujeszky's disease virus.