Vaccines play a crucial role in the protection of animals and humans from deadly pathogens. The first vaccine that also protected against cancer was developed against the highly oncogenic herpesvirus Marek’s disease virus (MDV). MDV infects chickens and causes severe immunosuppression, neurological signs, and fatal lymphomas, a process that requires the viral oncogene, meq. The most frequently used Marek’s disease vaccine is the live-attenuated CVI988/Rispens (CVI) strain, which efficiently protects chickens and prevents tumorigenesis. Intriguingly, CVI expresses at least two isoforms of meq; however, it remains unknown to what extent these isoforms contribute to virus attenuation. In this study, we individually examined the contribution of the two CVI-meq isoforms to the attenuation of the vaccine. We inserted the respective isoforms into a very virulent MDV (strain RB-1B), thereby replacing its original meq gene. Surprisingly, we could demonstrate that the longer isoform of meq strongly enhanced virus-induced pathogenesis and tumorigenesis, indicating that other mutations in the CVI genome contribute to virus attenuation. On the contrary, the shorter isoform completely abrogated pathogenesis, demonstrating that changes in the meq gene can indeed play a key role in virus attenuation. Taken together, our study provides important evidence on attenuation of one of the most frequently used veterinary vaccines worldwide.