A method to study the function of individual African swine fever virus (ASFV) gene products utilizing the Escherichia coli lac repressor-operator system has been developed. Recombinant viruses containing both the lacI gene encoding the lac repressor and a strong virus late promoter modified by the insertion of one or two copies of the lac operator sequence at various positions were constructed. The ability of each modified promoter to regulate expression of the firefly luciferase gene was assayed in the presence and in the absence of the inducer isopropyl beta-D-thiogalactoside (IPTG). Induction and repression of gene activity were dependent on the position(s) of the operator(s) with respect to the promoter and on the number of operators inserted. The ability of this system to regulate the expression of ASFV genes was analyzed by constructing a recombinant virus inducibly expressing the major capsid protein p72. Electron microscopy analysis revealed that under nonpermissive conditions, electron-dense membrane-like structures accumulated in the viral factories and capsid formation was inhibited. Induction of p72 expression allowed the progressive building of the capsid on these structures, leading to assembly of ASFV particles. The results of this report demonstrate that the transferred inducible expression system is a powerful tool for analyzing the function of ASFV genes.