White spot syndrome virus (WSSV) is at present a major scourge to worldwide shrimp cultivation. We have determined the entire sequence of the double-stranded, circular DNA genome of WSSV, which contains 292,967 nucleotides encompassing 184 major open reading frames (ORFs). Only 6 f the WSSV ORFs have putative homologues in databases, mainly representing genes encoding enzymes for nucleotide metabolism, DNA replication, and protein modification. The remaining ORFs are mostly unassigned, except for five, which encode structural virion proteins. Unique features of WSSV are the presence of a very long ORF of 18,234 nucleotides, with unknown function, a collagen-like ORF, and nine regions, dispersed along the genome, each containing a variable number of 250-bp tandem repeats. The collective information on WSSV and the phylogenetic analysis on the viral DNA polymerase suggest that WSSV differs profoundly from all presently known viruses and that it is a representative of a new virus family.