The aim of this study was to evaluate the disease-inducing ability of four chimeric Newcastle disease viruses (NDV) by clinicopathological assessment. The infectious clones were previously generated by insertion of hemagglutinin-neuraminidase (HN) and/or fusion (F) genes from virulent strains (Turkey North Dakota and California 02) into a mesogenic strain (Anhinga) backbone. Groups of 4-week-old chickens were inoculated via eye drop instillation, clinical signs were monitored daily, and necropsies with collection of tissues were performed at 2, 5, 10, and 14 days post infection. Tissue sections were evaluated for histopathology and immunohistochemistry for NDV nucleoprotein. All viruses replicated successfully in the natural host, although viral recovery, seroconversion, and extent of immunohistochemical staining were greatest from birds infected with those viruses containing both F and HN genes from the same virulent virus. There was minimal to no increase in clinicopathologic disease due to infection with the chimeras compared to the recombinant backbone. However, all birds developed histological evidence of encephalitis. The results suggest that the inherent virulence of Turkey North Dakota and California 2002 strains is due to more than the simple presence of their F and HN genes.