Several mouse hepatitis viruses (MHV) with different pathogenicity were studied by oligonucleotide fingerprinting. Two strains, MHV-K and MHV-D, which were isolated in Japan and, which cause anaplasia and necrosis of bone marrow and diarrhea, respectively, were found to be closely related to MHV-A59, the prototype MHV. Two other MHV strains, isolated from nude mice, were found to have diverged extensively from the known MHV strains. The MHVs isolated from separate cloned neuroblastoma cell lines persistently infected with JHM strain were also found to have diverged more markedly than the corresponding virus maintained under the conditions of lytic infection. Genetic divergence during persistent infection may be one of the mechanisms by which the MHV diverges.