Newcastle disease (ND) is one of the most important diseases of poultry, negatively affecting poultry production worldwide. The disease is caused by Newcastle disease virus (NDV) or avian paramyxovirus type 1 (APMV-1), a negative-sense single-stranded RNA virus of the genus Avulavirus, family Paramyxoviridae. Although all NDV isolates characterized to date belong to a single serotype of APMV-1, significant genetic diversity has been described between different NDV isolates. Here we present the complete genome sequence and the clinicopathological characterization of a virulent Newcastle disease virus isolate (NDV-Peru/08) obtained from poultry during an outbreak of ND in Peru in 2008. Phylogenetic reconstruction and analysis of the evolutionary distances between NDV-Peru/08 and other isolates representing established NDV genotypes revealed the existence of large genomic and amino differences that clearly distinguish this isolate from viruses of typical NDV genotypes. Although NDV-Peru/08 is a genetically distinct virus, pathogenesis studies conducted with chickens revealed that NDV-Peru/08 infection results in clinical signs characteristic of velogenic viscerotropic NDV strains. Additionally, vaccination studies have shown that an inactivated NDV-LaSota/46 vaccine conferred full protection from NDV-Peru/08-induced clinical disease and mortality. This represents the first complete characterization of a virulent NDV isolate from South America.