Three chimeric classical swine fever virus (CSFV)/bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV) full-length DNA copies were constructed, based on the infectious DNA copy of the CSFV vaccine strain C. The antigenic region of E2 and/or the complete ERNS gene were replaced by the analogous sequence of BVDV II strain 5250. Viable chimeric virus Flc11, in which ERNS was replaced, was directly recovered from supernatant of SK6.T7 cells transfected with full-length DNA. Viable chimeric virus Flc9, in which E2 was replaced, resulted in recovery of virus only when SK6.T7 transfected cells were maintained for several passages. However, no virus could be recovered after replacement of both ERNS and E2, even after 10 cell passages. Both Flc9 and Flc11 grow in swine kidney cells (SK6), stably maintain their heterologous BVDV sequences and, as assessed by monoclonal antibody typing and radio-immunoprecipitation assays, express their heterologous proteins. Flc9 showed a slower growth rate on SK6 cells than Flc11 and wild-type Flc2 virus. Replacement of ERNS or E2 of C-strain-based chimeric viruses did not alter cell tropism compared to wild-type C-strain virus for SK6 and FBE cells. Both Flc9 and Flc11 induced E2 or ERNS antibodies, which could be discriminated from those induced after wild-type virus infection, even after repeated vaccination. Furthermore, pigs were completely protected against a lethal CSFV challenge. These results indicate the feasibility of introduction of marker antigens in a live-attenuated marker C-strain vaccine for CSFV.