We previously reported the isolation of a mutant poliovirus lacking the entire genomic RNA 3′ noncoding region. Infection of HeLa cell monolayers with this deletion mutant revealed only a minor defect in the levels of viral RNA replication. To further analyze the consequences of the genomic 3′ noncoding region deletion, we examined viral RNA replication in a neuroblastoma cell line, SK-N-SH cells. The minor genomic RNA replication defect in HeLa cells was significantly exacerbated in the SK-N-SH cells, resulting in a decreased capacity for mutant virus growth. Analysis of the nature of the RNA replication deficiency revealed that deleting the poliovirus genomic 3′ noncoding region resulted in a positive-strand RNA synthesis defect. The RNA replication deficiency in SK-N-SH cells was not due to a major defect in viral translation or viral protein processing. Neurovirulence of the mutant virus was determined in a transgenic mouse line expressing the human poliovirus receptor. Greater than 1,000 times more mutant virus was required to paralyze 50% of inoculated mice, compared to that with wild-type virus. These data suggest that, together with a cellular factor(s) that is limiting in neuronal cells, the poliovirus 3′ noncoding region is involved in positive-strand synthesis during genome replication.