This work describes analyses of the function of the murid herpesvirus 4 strain 68 (MHV-68) M2 gene. A frameshift mutation was made in the M2 open reading frame that caused premature termination of translation of M2 after amino acid residue 90. The M2 mutant showed no defect in productive replication in vitro or in lungs after infection of mice. Likewise, the characteristic transient increase in spleen cell number, Vβ4 T-cell-receptor-positive CD8+ T-cell mononucleosis, and establishment of latency were unaffected. However, the M2 mutant virus was defective in its ability to cause the transient sharp rise in latently infected cells normally seen in the spleen after infection of mice. We also demonstrate that expression of M2 is restricted to B cells in the spleen and that M2 encodes a 30-kDa protein localizing predominantly in the cytoplasm and plasma membrane of B cells.