The use of recombinant viruses for the expression of a wide array of foreign proteins has become commonplace during the last few years. Recently, we have described the construction and characterization of chimeric human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-poliovirus genomes in which the gag and pol genes of HIV-1 have been substituted for the VP2 and VP3 capsid genes of the P1 capsid precursor region of poliovirus. Transfection of these RNAs into tissue culture cells results in replication of the RNA genome and expression of HIV-1-P1 fusion proteins (W. S. Choi, R. Pal-Ghosh, and C. D. Morrow, J. Virol. 65:2875-2883, 1991). Here we report on the encapsidation and amplification of the minireplicons to obtain sufficient quantities for biological characterization. To do this, HIV-1-poliovirus minireplicon genomes containing the gag or pol gene were transfected into cells previously infected with a recombinant vaccinia virus (VV-P1) which expresses the poliovirus capsid precursor protein, P1 (D. C. Ansardi, D. C. Porter, and C. D. Morrow, J. Virol. 65:2088-2092, 1991). The chimeric minireplicons replicated and expressed the appropriate HIV-1-P1 fusion proteins as determined by immunoprecipitation with HIV-1-specific antibodies. The encapsidated genomes were isolated by ultracentrifugation. Reinfection of cells with the encapsidated chimeric RNA genomes resulted in expression of the HIV-1-Gag-P1 or HIV-1-Pol-P1 fusion protein. Serial passaging of the encapsidated chimeric HIV-1-poliovirus genomes was accomplished by coinfecting cells with the encapsidated minireplicons and VV-P1, resulting in stocks of the encapsidated minireplicons. Northern (RNA) blot analysis of passaged material revealed that no detectable deletions of the chimeric genomes occurred during 14 serial passages. Infection of cells by the encapsidated minireplicons was blocked by antipoliovirus antibodies. Coinfection of cells with encapsidated minireplicons and type 1 Sabin poliovirus resulted in encapsidation of the chimeric genomes by wild-type poliovirus as measured by immunoprecipitation of the HIV-1-P1 fusion proteins with HIV-1-specific antibodies. The results of this study demonstrate the encapsidation of poliovirus minireplicons which express foreign proteins and point to the future use of this system as a potential vaccine vector.