The nucleotide sequence of the L gene of Marburg virus, strain Musoke, has been determined. The L gene has a single long open reading frame encoding a polypeptide of 2330 amino acids (MW 267,175) that represents the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. The putative transcription start signal (3'CUACCUAUAAUU 5') and the termination signal (3' UAAUUCUUUUU 5') of the gene could be identified. Computer-assisted comparison of the L protein with L proteins of other nonsegmented negative-stranded RNA viruses (Paramyxoviridae: Sendai virus, Newcastle disease virus, human parainfluenza 3 virus, measles virus, human respiratory syncytial virus; Rhabdoviridae: vesicular stomatitis virus, rabies virus) revealed significant homologies primarily in the N-terminal half of the proteins. We have identified three common conserved boxes (A, B, and C) among filo-, paramyxo-, and rhabdovirus L proteins, which are probably involved in the polymerase function. The L proteins can be divided into an N-terminal half, which seems to accommodate the common enzymatic sites, and a C-terminal half carrying virus specific peculiarities. The data presented here suggest a common evolutionary history for all nonsegmented negative-stranded RNA viruses and show that filoviruses are more closely related to paramyxo- than to rhabdoviruses.