The high-mobility-group (HMG) SSRP1 protein is a member of a conserved chromatin-remodeling complex (FACT/DUF/CP) implicated in DNA replication, basal and regulated transcription, and DNA repair. To assist in the functional analysis of SSRP1, the Ssrp1 gene was targeted in murine embryonic stem cells, and the mutation was introduced into the germ line. Embryos homozygous for the targeted allele die soon after implantation, and preimplantation blastocysts are defective for cell outgrowth and/or survival in vitro. The Ssrp1 mutation was also crossed into a p53 null background without affecting growth and/or survival defects caused by loss of Ssrp1 function. Thus, Ssrp1 appears to encode nonredundant and p53-independent functions that are essential for cell viability.