We have located, cloned, sequenced and characterized the ecdysteroid UDP-glycosyltransferase gene (egt) gene from the baculovirus Lymantria dispar multinucleocapsid nuclear polyhedrosis virus. (LdMNPV), which is specific for the gypsy moth (L. dispar). The egt gene from the related baculovirus Autographa californica multinucleocapsid nuclear polyhedrosis virus (AcMNPV) disrupts the hormonal balance of the host larva by galactosylating ecdysone, which prevents moulting. The location of the LdMNPV egt gene, determined by hybridization analysis using a cloned coding segment of the AcMNPV egt gene, was mapped to between 79.1 and 80.2 map units on the viral genome. This region contains an open reading frame of 1464 nucleotides capable of encoding a 55K polypeptide. This predicted protein exhibits a 42% amino acid identity with the AcMNPV egt polypeptide. Transcripts of the egt gene were analyzed by Northern blot and primer extension. The egt gene is transcribed from approximately 12 to 48 h, and maximally at about 16 h post-infection. Transcription occurred in the presence of aphidicolin, a viral DNA synthesis inhibitor, but not in the presence of cycloheximide, a protein synthesis inhibitor. Therefore the LdMNPV egt gene is classified as a delayed early gene. The egt gene is transcribed in a clockwise direction with respect to the circular map, and transcription initiates at a single site. Comparisons between the two baculoviral egt proteins and mammalian UDP-glucuronosyltransferases reveal areas which are conserved between the mammalian and baculoviral genes, as well as areas that are only conserved in the viral egt proteins. The LdMNPV protein sequence appears to include a signal peptide, which would allow the protein to be secreted into the haemolymph.