A novel picornavirus from commercial broiler chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus) has been identified and genetically characterized. The viral genome consists of a single-stranded, positive-sense RNA genome of >9243 nt excluding the poly(A) tail and as such represents one of the largest picornavirus genomes reported to date. The virus genome is GC-rich with a G+C content of 54.5%. The genomic organization is similar to other picornaviruses: 5' UTR-L-VPO-VP3-VP1-2A-2B-2C-3A-3B-3C-3D-3' UTR. The partially characterized 5' UTR of >373 nt appears to possess a type II internal ribosomal entry site (IRES), which is also found in members of the genera Aphthovirus and Cardiovirus. This IRES exhibits significant sequence similarity to turkey 'gallivirus A'. The 3' UTR of 278 nt contains the conserved 48 nt 'barbell-like' structure identified in 'passerivirus', 'gallivirus', Avihepatovirus and some Kobuvirus genus members. A predicted large open reading frame (ORF) of 8592 nt encodes a potential polyprotein precursor of 2864 amino acids. In addition, the virus contains a predicted large L protein of 462 amino acids. Pairwise sequence comparisons, along with phylogenetic analysis revealed the highest percentage identity to 'Passerivirus A' (formerly called turdivirus 1), forming a monophyletic group across the P1, P2 and P3 regions, with <40, <40 and <50% amino acid identity respectively. Reduced identity was observed against 'gallivirus A' and members of the Kobuvirus genus. Quantitative PCR analysis estimated a range of 4x10(5) to 5x10(8) viral genome copies g(-1) in 22 (73%) of 30 PCR-positive faeces. Based on sequence and phylogenetic analysis, we propose that this virus is the first member of a potential novel genus within the family Picornaviridae. Further studies are required to investigate the pathogenic potential of this virus within the avian host.