Although many subviral RNAs reduce or intensify disease symptoms caused by the helper virus, only recently have clues concerning the mechanism of disease modulation been revealed. New models for DI RNA-mediated reduction in helper virus levels and symptom attenuation include DI RNA enhancement of posttranscriptional gene silencing (PTGS), which is an antiviral defense mechanism in plants. Symptom enhancement by the satRNA of Cucumber mosaic virus is caused by minus-strand induction of the programmed cell death pathway. In contrast, symptom enhancement by satC of Turnip crinkle virus is due to satC interference with virion formation, leading to increased levels of free coat protein, which is the viral suppressor of PTGS. Mutualism between satRNA and helper virus can be seen for the satRNA of Groundnut rosette virus, which contributes to the virus by allowing virion assembly. These novel findings are leading to re-evaluation of the relationships between subviral RNAs, helper viruses, and hosts.