The murine retrovirus shuttle vector pZipNeo SV(X)1 was used to construct plasmids encoding the three major surface glycoproteins of bovine herpesvirus-1 (BHV-1). Each plasmid was transfected into D17, a canine osteosarcoma cell line sensitive to lysis by bovine NK-like cells when infected with BHV-1. After selection in G418 sulfate, cell lines expressing the recombinant gene products were sorted by flow microfluorimetry, radioimmunoprecipitated, and analyzed by SDS-PAGE for fidelity as compared to the native viral glycoproteins. Two of the three genetically engineered cell lines (gI and gIV) could successfully serve as targets to detect bovine NK-like cytolysis. These findings support and extend a previous study from our laboratory indicating a role for BHV-1 glycoproteins in the cytolytic response by bovine NK-like cells. Additionally, this study demonstrated that individual proteins are recognized by these effector cells, and that recombinant glycoproteins can direct cytolytic activity in the absence of host cell infection-associated proteins. This is the first known report of Ag directed cytotoxicity by bovine null (non-B, non-T) cells.