Two novel spliced genes (UL131A and UL128) flanking UL130 were predicted from sequence comparisons between human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) and its closest known relative, chimpanzee cytomegalovirus (CCMV), and the splicing patterns were confirmed by mRNA mapping experiments. Both genes were transcribed with late kinetics and shared a polyadenylation site. Comparisons with wild-type HCMV in infected human tissues showed that three of five isolates passaged in cell culture contained disruptions of UL128, one was frameshifted in UL131A and one exhibited a deletion affecting UL131A and UL130. CCMV and the Colburn strain of simian cytomegalovirus, which have been passaged in cell culture, also exhibit disruptions of UL128. These observations indicate that expression of either one of UL128 and UL131A is deleterious to growth of primate cytomegaloviruses in cell culture. Although the functions of these genes are unknown, sequence comparisons suggest that UL128 encodes a beta-chemokine.