The simplest application of the modern genetic manipulation methods to vaccine development is the expression in microbial cells of genes from pathogens that encode surface antigens capable of inducing neutralizing antibodies in the host of the pathogen involved. This procedure has been exploited successfully for development of a vaccine against hepatitis B virus (HBV) that is now widely used. Similar approaches have been directed towards formulations for immunization against several other animal and human diseases and some of these preparations are now presently in trials. Of no less importance is the impact of biotechnology in providing reagents for fundamental studies of topics such as the determination of virulence, antigenic variation, virus receptors and the immunological response to viral antigens. The core antigen of HBV is a good example of a product of genetic engineering that is a valuable diagnostic reagent, and that is finding important use in immunological studies of particular pertinence to vaccine development.