Protein p54, one of the most antigenic structural African swine fever virus (ASFV) proteins, has been localized by immuno-electron microscopy in the replication factories of infected cells, mainly associated with membranes and immature virus particles. Attempts to inactivate the p54 gene from ASFV by targeted insertion of beta-galactosidase selection marker was uniformly unsuccessful, suggesting that this gene is essential for virus viability. To demonstrate that, we inserted in the TK (thymidine kinase) locus of the virus a construction containing a second copy of the p54 gene and beta-glucuronidase selection marker under the control of p54 and p73 promoters, respectively. Virus mutant clones expressing a second copy of p54 and beta-glucuronidase were used to achieve deletion mutants of the original copy of the gene. Virus mutants expressing only the second inserted copy of p54 and the two selection markers mentioned above were successfully obtained. Therefore, we have demonstrated that the p54 gene product plays an essential role in virus growth, characterizing for the first time in ASFV an essential virus gene.