Viral genomic RNA of Fer-de-Lance virus (FDLV), a paramyxovirus highly pathogenic for reptiles, was reverse transcribed and cloned. Plasmids with significant sequence similarities to the hemagglutinin-neuraminidase (HN) and polymerase (L) genes of mammalian paramyxoviruses were identified by BLAST search. Partial sequences of the FDLV genes were used to design primers for amplification by nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and sequencing of 518-bp L gene and 352-bp HN gene fragments from a collection of 15 previously uncharacterized reptilian paramyxoviruses. Phylogenetic analyses of the partial L and HN sequences produced similar trees in which there were two distinct subgroups of isolates that were supported with maximum bootstrap values, and several intermediate isolates. Within each subgroup the nucleotide divergence values were less than 2.5%, while the divergence between the two subgroups was 20-22%. This indicated that the two subgroups represent distinct virus species containing multiple virus strains. The five intermediate isolates had nucleotide divergence values of 11-20% and may represent additional distinct species. In addition to establishing diversity among reptilian paramyxoviruses, the phylogenetic groupings showed some correlation with geographic location, and clearly demonstrated a low level of host species-specificity within these viruses. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science B.V.