Tryptic peptide maps from more than 50 isolates of murine leukemia virus (MuLV) have shown that, in general, the structure of core protein p30 is highly conserved. However, a structurally variable region of p30 has been identified that is functionally associated with Fv-1 tropism. On the basis of this structural variability, MuLV strains can be classified as B-tropic, N-tropic, xenotropic, and/or as being derived from wild mice. Certain xenotropic viruses have a p30 like that of B-tropic MuLV and presumably would be subject to restriction in cells containing an Fv-In allele. Other p30 structural markers serve to distinguish the exogenous Friend, Moloney, and Rauscher viruses from endogenous MuLV. Furthermore, some MuLV strains have structural differences in their p30s that are useful as strain-specific markers. Finally, a possible sarcoma-associated alteration in the structure of p30 has been noted in the ml clone of Moloney murine sarcoma virus.