Infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV) is a significant pathogen of young salmonid fishes worldwide but particularly within the historical range of the Pacific Northwest and California. In the Sacramento and San Joaquin River drainages of California, IHNV outbreaks in juvenile Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha have been observed regularly at large production hatcheries, including Coleman National Fish Hatchery (established in 1941) and Feather River State Fish Hatchery (FRH; established in 1967), since facility operations began. Recent severe epidemics at the FRH in 1998 and 2000-2002 prompted investigations into the characteristics and potential sources of virus at this facility. Both phylogenetic analyses of a variable portion of the glycoprotein gene and serologic comparisons based on neutralization with three polyclonal rabbit sera were used to characterize 82 IHNV isolates from the Feather River watershed between 1969 and 2004. All isolates examined were in the L genogroup and belonged to one of three serologic groups typical of IHNV from California. The IHNV isolates from the Feather River area demonstrated a maximum nucleotide sequence divergence of 4.0%, and new isolates appeared to emerge from previous isolates rather than by the introduction of more diverse subgroups from exogenous sources. The earliest isolates examined from the watershed formed the subgroup LI, which disappeared coincidently with a temporal shift to new genetic and serologic types of the larger subgroup LII. Experimental challenges demonstrated no significant differences in the virulence for juvenile Chinook salmon and rainbow trout O. mykiss from selected isolates representing the principal types of IHNV found historically and from recent epidemics at FRH. While most isolates were equally virulent for both host species, one isolate was found to be more virulent for Chinook salmon than for rainbow trout. ?? Copyright by the American Fisheries Society 2007.