A region of the feline calicivirus (FCV) genome was sequenced which encodes polypeptides that are similar by amino acid alignment analysis to several picornavirus polypeptides. These polypeptides include the 2C polypeptide, the 3C cysteine protease and the 3D RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. The 2C-like region of the FCV genome encodes a GxxGxGKT nucleotide binding motif as well as amino acids which have been shown to be conserved in the picornavirus 2C polypeptides. The FCV RNA-dependent RNA polymerase also shows regions of similarity with picornavirus RNA polymerase sequences including the GDD sequence which is thought to be in or near the active site of the polymerase. The FCV cysteine protease-like sequences have the lowest degree of similarity with picornavirus cysteine proteases of the three regions aligned. However, the cysteine and histidine residues thought to be in the active site of the protease are present and are surrounded by amino acids conserved in the picornavirus cysteine proteases. The order of the polypeptides encoded in the FCV genome is the same as in the picornaviruses with the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase being located at the C-terminus of the FCV polyprotein. However, there is an approximately 40,000 dalton region between the FCV 2C- and the cysteine protease-like polypeptides which has no similarity to any known picornavirus protein. A striking difference between the organization of these sequences in FCV and the picornaviruses is that in the FCV genome, these non-structural polypeptides are encoded near the 5' end of the genomic RNA. Termination of the reading frame encoding these polypeptides occurs approximately 2400 bases from the 3' end of the genomic RNA as compared to 71 bases in the poliovirus genomic RNA.