BACKGROUND MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a group of short (~22 nt) noncoding RNAs that specifically regulate gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. miRNA precursors (pre-miRNAs), which are imperfect stem loop structures of ~70 nt, are processed into mature miRNAs by cellular RNases III. To date, thousands of miRNAs have been identied in different organisms. Several viruses have been reported to encode miRNAs. FINDINGS Here, we extended the analysis of miRNA-encoding potential to the Anatid herpesvirus 1 (AHV-1). Using computational approaches, we found that AHV-1 putatively encodes 12 mature miRNAs. We then compared the 12 mature miRNAs candidates with the all known miRNAs of the herpesvirus family. Interestingly, the "seed sequences" (nt 2 to 8) of 2 miRNAs were predicted to have the high conservation in position and/or sequence with the 2 miRNAs of Marek's disease virus type 1 (MDV-1). Additionally, we searched the target from viral mRNAs. Surprisingly, none of its own viral transcripts could potentially be targeted. CONCLUSIONS Using computational approaches, we found that AHV-1 putatively encodes 12 mature miRNAs and 2 miRNAs have the high conservation with the 2 miRNAs of MDV-1. The result suggested that AHV-1 and MDV-1 should have closed evolutionary relation, which provides a valuable evidence of classification of AHV-1. Additionally, none of viral gene targets were found, which suggests that AHV-1 miRNAs could not affect its own gene expression.