Infectious vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), the prototypic nonsegmented negative-strand RNA virus, was recovered from a full-length cDNA clone of the viral genome. Bacteriophage T7 RNA polymerase expressed from a recombinant vaccinia virus was used to drive the synthesis of a genome-length positive- sense transcript of VSV from a cDNA clone in baby hamster kidney cells that were simultaneously expressing the VSV nucleocapsid protein, phosphoprotein, and polymerase from separate plasmids. Up to 105 infectious virus particles were obtained from transfection of 106 cells, as determined by plaque assays. This virus was amplified on passage, neutralized by VSV-specific antiserum, and shown to possess specific nucleotide sequence markers characteristic of the cDNA. This achievement renders the biology of VSV fully accessible to genetic manipulation of the viral genome. In contrast to the success with positive-sense RNA, attempts to recover infectious virus from negative-sense T7 transcripts were uniformly unsuccessful, because T7 RNA polymerase terminated transcription at or near the VSV intergenic junctions.