The herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) glycoproteins H (gH) and L (gL) form a heterodimer and efficient expression of gH at the virion or cell surface is dependent upon gL. Five carboxy-terminal deletion mutants of gL were created and their ability to interact with and mediate cell-surface expression of gH, to promote binding of gL-dependent anti-gH antibodies and to contribute to cell fusion was analysed. All of the gL mutants bound gH, but only two mutants, containing the amino-terminal 161 or 168 aa of gL, mediated cell-surface expression of gH, and only gL161 and gL168 functioned in cell fusion. The binding of gL to gH, therefore, was not sufficient to ensure gH cell-surface expression and it was not possible to separate the gH-trafficking role of gL from gL function in fusion. Co-expression of gH with any gL mutant conferred binding of the anti-gH mAbs 53S and LP11. If the acquisition of 53S and LP11 binding to gH reflects a gL-induced conformational change, such a change is not sufficient to mediate trafficking of the gH-gL heterodimer.