Dengue viruses (DENV) cause 50-100 million cases of acute febrile disease every year, including 500,000 reported cases of dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) and dengue shock syndrome (DSS). Viral factors have been proposed to influence the severity of the disease, but markers of virulence have never been identified on DENV. Three DENV serotype-1 isolates from the 2007 epidemic in Cambodia that are derived from patients experiencing the various clinical forms of dengue were characterized both phenotypically and genetically. Phenotypic characteristics in vitro, based on replication kinetics in different cell lines and apoptosis response, grouped isolates from DF and DHF patients together, whereas the virus isolate from a DSS patient showed unique features: a lower level of replication in mammalian cells and extensive apoptosis in mosquito cells. Genomic comparison of viruses revealed six unique amino acid residues in the membrane, envelope, and in non-structural genes in the virus isolated from the DSS patient.