The primary 2A/2B polyprotein cleavage of aphtho-and cardioviruses is mediated by their 2A proteins cleaving C-terminally. Whilst the aphthovirus 2A region is only 16 aa (possibly 18 aa) long, the cardiovirus 2A protein is some 150 aa. We have previously shown that foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) 2A is able to mediate cleavage in an artificial (chloramphenicol acetyltransferase/FMDV 2A/beta-glucuronidase [CAT-2A-GUS]) polyprotein system devoid of any other FMDV sequences with high (approximately 85%), although not complete, cleavage. In this paper we show that insertion of upstream FMDV capsid protein 1 D sequences increases the activity. In addition, we have demonstrated that the cardiovirus Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus(TME) 2A protein, when linked to GUS in a single ORF, is able to cleave at its own C terminus with high efficiency--if not completely. The C-terminal 19 aa of TME 2A, together with the N-terminal proline residue of protein 2B, were inserted into the CAT/GUS artificial polyprotein system (in a single ORF). This recombinant [CAT-deltaTME2A-GUS] polyprotein was able to mediate cleavage with high (approximately 85%) efficiency--directly comparable to the activity observed when FMDV 2A was inserted. A similar insertion into [CAT-GUS] of the C-terminal 19 aa of the cardiovirus encephalomyocarditis virus (EMC) 2A, together with the N-terminal proline residue of protein 2B, produced a [CAT-delta EMC2A-GUS] polyprotein which also mediated cleavage at approximately 85%. Analysis of the products of expression of these artificial polyproteins in a prokaryotic translation system did not, apparently, reveal any GUS cleavage product.