The anti-apoptotic activity of p35s from two baculoviruses, Autographa californica nucleopolyhedrovirus (AcNPV) and Bombyx mori NPV (BmNPV), was compared in mammalian cells. AcNPV p35 efficiently blocked apoptosis induced by caspase overexpression, but BmNPV p35 did so very poorly. Analysis of chimeric p35s and in vitro cleavage of wild type p35s suggest that the cleavage efficiency of p35 correlates with the blocking activity. Single amino acid substitutions of BmNPV p35 with those observed in AcNPV p35, however, resulted in significant loss of its anti-apoptotic activity. We speculate that sequences flanking the cleavage site have uniquely evolved during baculovirus evolution.