Viral enzymes that process small molecules provide potential chemotherapeutic targets. A key constraint-the replicative potential of spontaneous enzyme mutants-has been hard to define with human gammaherpesviruses because of their narrow species tropisms. Here, we disrupted the murid herpesvirus 4 (MuHV-4) ORF61, which encodes its ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) large subunit. Mutant viruses showed delayed in vitro lytic replication, failed to establish infection via the upper respiratory tract, and replicated to only a very limited extent in the lower respiratory tract without reaching lymphoid tissue. RNR could therefore provide a good target for gammaherpesvirus chemotherapy.