There is increased interest in understanding protective immunity to smallpox for two principal reasons. First, it is the only disease that has been successfully eradicated using a live virus vaccine and, second, there exists a potential threat of intentional or unintentional release of variola virus, the causative agent of smallpox. Although mortality rates associated with smallpox were as high as 40%, a significant subset of those infected recovered. The basis of susceptibility or resistance, and the immune parameters associated with recovery, are still unknown. Animal models of poxvirus infections are being employed to understand what constitutes an effective host response. Ectromelia virus is closely related to variola virus and it causes a disease similar to smallpox in mice. This model is well established, resistant and susceptible strains of mice are defined and four genetic loci associated with resistance have been identified. Susceptibility to infection and disease severity is also influenced by virus immune evasion strategies. The outcome of infection is clearly dictated by several factors including host and viral genes, both of which influence the immune response. Here we present data on one virus-encoded immune modifier and its effect on the functions of two host genetic loci associated with resistance.