Brome mosaic virus (BMV) is a positive-strand RNA virus with a multipartite genome that causes symptomless infection in Nicotiana benthamiana. We have isolated and characterized a strain of BMV that produced uniform vein chlorosis in systemically infected N. benthamiana. Analysis of pseudorecombinants constructed by exchanging RNA 1 and 2 and RNA 3 components between wild-type (non-symptom-inducing) and vein chlorosis-inducing strains of BMV indicated that the genetic determinant for the induction of the chlorotic phenotype is located on RNA 3. Sequence analysis of progeny RNA 3 recovered from symptomatic N. benthamiana plants revealed that vein chlorosis is due to the single nucleotide transition 887G-->887A, which changes the codon for Val-266 to Ile-266 in the movement protein gene. The mutation had no detectable effect on the accumulation of virus in either inoculated or systematically infected leaves of N. benthamiana. The vein chlorosis phenotype is the manifestation of the substitution of Ile-266 for Val-266 in the movement protein gene, since additional alterations in this region (a silent mutation, i.e., 887GUU889-->GUC, and an alteration of valine to phenylalanine, i.e., 887GUU889-->887UUU889) resulted in symptomless infections on N. benthamiana. The modulation of the symptom phenotype by the substitution of Ile-266 for Val-266 is specific for N. benthamiana, since neither movement nor the symptom phenotype in barley plants was affected.