The consensus nucleotide sequence of the entire genome of foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) (biological clone C-S8c1) has been completed, and compared with that of two persistent derivatives R99 and R146, rescued after 99 and 146 passages of the carrier BHK-21 cells. Consensus sequences were determined directly from supernatants of persistently infected cells, without intervening cytolytic amplification of the viruses. These genomic sequences have also been compared with that of FMDV R100, a virus that was also rescued from persistently infected cells, but that was subjected to cytolytic amplification prior to sequencing. Mutation frequencies for R99 and R146 relative to C-S8c1 were in the range of 2.8x10(-3) to 7.7x10(-3) substitutions per nucleotide for the 5'-UTR and the L-, P1-, P2- and P3-coding regions. No mutations were fixed in the polymerase (3D)-coding region. Striking contrasts were noted regarding the distribution of mutation types along the persistent genomes, notably the complete absence of transversion mutations within the 5'-UTR, compared with 53% transversions in the L- and P1-coding regions. The sequencing results presented here, combined with previous sequences of FMDV C-S8c1 genomes at the onset of persistence, provide evidence of sequence fluctuations with a non-linear accumulation of mutations during prolonged persistence, a hallmark of quasispecies dynamics.