Expression of the latency-associated transcript (LAT) gene is a hallmark of alphaherpesvirus latency, and yet its control and function remain an enigma. Resolution of this problem will require verification and subsequent elimination or disabling of elements regulating LAT gene transcription so that the influence of the resultant RNA can be evaluated. Toward this end, we generated a novel pseudorabies virus (PrV) recombinant in which a 282-bp region containing the LAP1 (first latency-active promoter) consensus sequence was replaced by a reporter cassette. Despite this substitution, replication of the recombinant was comparable to that of the parental and rescuant viruses both in cultured mammalian cells and in the natural host, swine. Furthermore, production of the LAT gene-associated 2.0- and 8.0-kb RNAs during an in vitro lytic infection of cultured neuronal cells was unaffected. However, the otherwise constitutively produced and processed 8.4-kb LAT was not detected in porcine trigeminal ganglia latently infected with this novel recombinant, although the viral genome was shown to be present. Therefore, LAP1 is apparently the basal promoter for PrV LAT gene expression during viral latency but is not required for such activity during an in vitro lytic infection of neuronal cells. More importantly, the ability of PrV to persist in a latent state in the absence of LAT suggests that other factors are responsible for this event in the natural host.