To study fundamental aspects of RNA recombination, an in vivo RNA recombination system was established. This system allowed the efficient generation of recombinant cytopathogenic pestiviruses after transfection of synthetic, nonreplicatable, subgenomic transcripts in cells infected with a replicating noncytopathogenic virus. Studies addressing the interplay between RNA recombination and replication revealed that cotransfection of noninfected cells with various pairs of nonreplicatable RNA derivatives also led to the emergence of recombinant viral genomes. Remarkably, homologous and nonhomologous recombination occurred between two overlapping transcripts, each lacking different essential parts of the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) gene. Apart from the generally accepted viral replicative copy choice recombination, our results prove the existence of a viral RdRp-independent mechanism of RNA recombination that occurs in vivo. It appears likely that such a mechanism not only contributes to the evolution of RNA viruses but also leads to the generation of recombinant cellular RNAs.