The experiments described in this paper were part of an attempt to determine the mechanisms involved in the isomerization of the pseudorabies virus genome. To this end, [(14)C]thymidine-labeled parental virus DNA that was transferred to progeny virions produced by cells incubated in medium containing bromodeoxy-uridine was analyzed in neutral and alkaline CsCl density gradients. The buoyant density of the (14)C-labeled DNA indicated that the parental DNA strands had retained their integrity and had not undergone breakage and reunion with progeny DNA strands; neither massive intermolecular nor intramolecular recombination had occurred after replication of the DNA. Whereas breakage and reunion between parental and progeny virus DNA strands were not detectable, these processes were observed between differentially density-labeled parental DNAs. Furthermore, the frequency of recombination between progeny DNAs accumulating in the cells was low. These results indicate that in pseudorabies virus-infected rabbit kidney cells recombination occurs mainly between parental genomes and precedes DNA replication. An analysis of the kinetics of appearance of recombinants between pairwise combinations of temperature-sensitive mutants also indicated that recombination is an early event. The ratio between the number of recombinant virions and the number of temperature-sensitive mutant virions produced by the cells remained the same throughout infection. Since the relative amounts of viral DNAs synthesized early and late during the infective process that were integrated into virions were approximately the same, it appears that late viral DNA did not experience an increased number of recombinational events compared with early viral DNA. These results, which reinforce the conclusion reached from the results of the analysis of the behavior of the parental DNA molecules in density shift experiments, indicate that recombination is an early event.