A small RNA, containing approximately 50 nucleotides, is synthesized by cells coinfected with standard vesicular stomatitis virus and its defective interfering (DI) particles. Infection of cells by standard virus or DI particles alone does not lead to synthesis of significant amounts of small RNA. The RNA is initiated at its 5' end with (p)ppXp and is not polyadenylylated at the 3' end despite a content of 51% adenosine. It has sequences complementary to the genome of a DI particle. The synthesis of the small RNA correlates with the replication of the genome of DI particles with molar ratio small RNA/genome RNA of DI particles greater than 50. When replication of DI genomes is prevented by the addition of cycloheximide or prior UV irradiation of DI particles, small RNA is not synthesized in coinfected cells. These results indicate that the small RNA is not the result of transcriptional initiation and that it may relate to interference mediated by DI particles.