Virulence and speed of action, as related to dose, are important effectiveness-determining properties of insect-pathogenic biocontrol agents. We used the droplet-feeding bioassay to compare dose responses between two wild-type baculoviruses, Autographa californica multicapsid nucleopolyhedrovirus (AcMNPV) and Spodoptera exigua MNPV (SeMNPV), and three deletion mutants of AcMNPV in S. exigua larvae. In each mutant one gene was deleted by genetic engineering: pp34, coding for the polyhedral membrane; egt, coding for ecdysteroid UDP–glucosyltransferase; or p10, coding for fibrillar structures in infected insect cells. SeMNPV had the lowest median lethal dose (LD50) as well as the highest speed of action (LT50) of all viruses investigated. In our comparative bioassays the only significant effect of gene deletions in AcMNPV was a slightly lower speed of action for the p10 deletion mutant. Otherwise, wild-type and recombinant AcMNPVs had similar biological activities. Our results suggest, in contrast to what is generally assumed, that gene deletions in AcMNPV for improved insecticidal activity should be critically assessed in each host system prior to further implementation as a control agent. Insertion of foreign genes coding for entomotoxins is less questionable and more promising in this respect.