In 2002-2003, velogenic Newcastle Disease Virus outbreaks, closely related to the Mexican isolates, were confirmed in the United States (U.S.) in southern California, Arizona, Nevada, and Texas. In this report, virulent NDVs isolated in Mexico between 1998 and 2006 were subjected to biologic characterization, using standard pathogenicity tests, and to phylogenetic analysis. Chicken embryo mean death time (MDT) test results ranged from 39.7 to 61.5 hours, and intracerebral pathogenicity index (ICPI) values were between 1.59 and 1.94, compared to a possible maximum value of 2.0. These isolates showed a dibasic amino acid motif at the fusion protein cleavage site sequence required for host systemic replication. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that the Mexican virulent NDVs belong to the class II, genotype V viruses and can be clearly divided in two groups as follows: isolates from 1998 to 2001 with close epidemiologic relationship with the latest U.S. NDV outbreaks, and phylogenetically distinct viruses, isolated from 2004 to 2006, which showed higher virulence. The assessment of the evolution of viruses from Mexico and other neighboring countries will aid in the U.S surveillance efforts for early detection of highly virulent NDV.