We have developed a dengue virus replicon system that can be used to discriminate between translation and RNA replication. Using this system, we analyzed the functional role of well-defined RNA elements present at the 3'UTR of dengue virus in mammalian and mosquito cells. Our results show that deletion of individual domains of the 3'UTR did not significantly affect translation of the input RNA but seriously compromised or abolished RNA synthesis. We demonstrated that complementarity between sequences present at the 5' and 3' ends of the genome is essential for dengue virus RNA synthesis, while deletion of domains A2 or A3 within the 3'UTR resulted in replicons with decreased RNA amplification. We also characterized the vaccine candidate rDEN2Delta30 in the replicon system and found that viral attenuation is caused by inefficient RNA synthesis. Furthermore, using both the replicon system and recombinant viruses, we identified an RNA region of the 3'UTR that enhances dengue virus replication in BHK cells while is dispensable in mosquito cells.