The relationship between co-suppression and DNA methylation was explored in transgenic plants showing inducible co-suppression following infection with a cytoplasmically replicating RNA virus. Induction resulted in a loss of transgene mRNA and resistance to further infection, factors typical of post-transcriptional gene silencing. In infected plants, de novo methylation of the transgene appeared to precede the onset of resistance and only occurred in plants where the outcome was co-suppression. The methylation was limited to sequences homologous to the viral RNA and occurred at both symmetric and non-symmetric sites on the DNA. Although methylation is predicted to occur in mitotic cells, the virus was found not to access the meristem. A diffusible sequence-specific signal may account for the epigenetic changes in those tissues.