Like other alphaherpesviruses, pseudorabies virus (PrV) exhibits restricted gene expression during latency. These latency-associated transcripts (LATs) are derived from the region located within 0.69 to 0.77 map units of the viral genome. However, the presence of such viral RNAs during a productive infection has not been described. Although several transcripts originating between 0.706 to 0.737 map units have been detected in PrV-infected cultured cells, their relationship to the LATs has not been examined. Therefore, to determine if any correlation exists between PrV LAT gene expression in the natural and laboratory systems, transcription from the LAT gene region during lytic infection of cultured neuronal and nonneuronal cells was evaluated. A Northern blot assay using single-stranded RNA probes complementary to the spliced in vivo 8. 4-kb largest latency transcript (LLT) detected 1.0-, 2.0-, and 8. 0-kb poly(A) RNAs in all PrV-infected cells lines. The 1.0- and 8. 0-kb transcripts partially overlapped the first and second exons of the LLT, respectively. In contrast, portions of both LLT exons comprised the 2.0-kb RNA sequence, which lacked the same intron as the LLT. Generation of this transcript began about 243 bp downstream of the LLT initiation site and terminated near the junction of BamHI fragments 8' and 8. Its synthesis was inhibited by cycloheximide but not by cytosine beta-D-arabinofuranoside, which suggests that the 2. 0-kb RNA is not an immediate-early gene product. Thus, although the PrV LAT gene is transcriptionally active during a productive infection of cultured cells, the resulting RNAs are distinctive from the LLT.