The expression of the poliovirus genome occurs by the translation of a single open reading frame to generate a long polyprotein which is subsequently processed by viral encoded proteases. The initial proteolytic cleavages result in the production of a P1 polyprotein which contains the capsid proteins, and the P2 and P3 polyproteins which contain proteins required for replication. The P3 polyprotein consists of the 3AB protein (containing the viral genome-linked protein, VPg), the viral protease, 3Cpro, and RNA polymerase, 3Dpol. To further study the expression and proteolytic processing of poliovirus P3 proteins in vivo, we have utilized recombinant vaccinia virus vectors to express nucleotides 5240-7400 containing the P3 region proteins of poliovirus. The P3 protein expressed from the recombinant vaccinia virus VV-P3 exhibited in vivo proteolytic activity as evident by processing of the polyprotein to generate the 3CD protein, consisting of a fusion between the 3Cpro and 3Dpol proteins. Further processing of the 3CD protein to 3Cpro and 3Dpol, however, was not detected in cells infected with VV-P3. Subcellular fractionation of VV-P3-infected cells demonstrated that the 3CD protein was present in both the soluble and membrane fractions. Finally, the 3CD protein expressed from VV-P3 was stable in cells co-infected with VV-P3 and poliovirus and no further processing to 3Dpol was detected. These results are discussed with regards to in vivo studies which suggest that the 3CD polyprotein is not a precursor to 3Dpol in poliovirus-infected cells. © 1993.