Virulent mutations in the bacteriophage Mu repressor gene were isolated and characterized. Recombination and DNA sequence analysis have revealed that virulence is due to unusual frameshift mutations which change several C-terminal amino acids. The vir mutations are in the same repressor region as the sts amber mutations which, by eliminating several C-terminal amino acids, suppress thermosensitivity of repressor binding to the operators by its N-terminal domain (J. L. Vogel, N. P. Higgins, L. Desmet, V. Geuskens, and A. Toussaint, unpublished data). Vir repressors bind Mu operators very poorly. Thus the Mu repressor C terminus, either by itself or in conjunction with other phage or host proteins, tunes the DNA-binding properties at the repressor N terminus.