The nucleic acid of a serologically distinct potyvirus, originally isolated out of sugar cane from Pakistan, was reverse transcribed and the 3' terminal 2000 bp was PCR amplified, cloned, and sequenced. Phylogenetic comparisons of viruses representing each genus of the Potyviridae show that the Pakistani isolate is most closely related to the rymoviruses wheat streak mosaic virus (WSMV) and brome streak mosaic virus. We therefore propose that this new virus species be named sugar cane streak mosaic virus to reflect its similarity to WSMV. The phylogenetic data also show that the genus Rymovirus contains at least two unique evolutionary lineages. Thus the current taxonomy, based on transmission vector, is paraphyletic. We present an analysis of the taxonomic relationships among members of the family and propose a classification that both resolves the paraphyly and more accurately represents the evolutionary history of the Potyviridae.