Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis (VEE) virus-based vectors for expression of heterologous genes have been constructed using full-length cDNA copy of the interstrain recombinant virus (Trinidad Donkey and 230 strain). Gene cassettes carrying the subgenomic mRNA promoter of VEE virus and the preS2-S gene of hepatitis B virus (HBV) were inserted before or after the genes of structural viral proteins. Live virus stocks were obtained by transfection of chick embryo fibroblasts with in vitro transcribed full-length RNA. Insertions of gene cassettes before the structural region resulted in expression of HBsAg (VEHB-25 and VEHB-361 viruses), whereas insertions in the 3' region did not. Recombinant virus VEHB-25 expressed HBsAg during 5 passages in Vero cells. VEHB-25 stimulated immune response to HBsAg and was less virulent than the parental virus.