We previously reported (N. Watanabe, M. Nishi, Y. Ikawa, and H. Amanuma, J. Virol. 65:132–137, 1991) that the mutant Friend spleen focus-forming virus (F-SFFVMS), which encodes a mutant gp55 membrane glycoprotein with an ecotropic env gp70 sequence, was nonpathogenic. Here we injected the F-SFFVMS–Friend murine leukemia virus (F-MuLV) clone 57 complex into newborn DBA/2 mice. We obtained four groups of pathogenic variant F-SFFV complexes, each showing a different degree of pathogenicity in adult mice and a different gp55 profile. Of these, group 1 variant F-SFFV was particularly interesting, because it was the most frequently obtained and because it produced doublet bands of gp55 (59 and 57 kDa), neither of which reacted with the nonecotropic gp70-specific monoclonal antibody, and because its DNA intermediate did not hybridize with the nonecotropic env-specific probe. Cloning and DNA sequence analysis of the env region of one isolate of the group 1 variant F-SFFV revealed that this virus consisted of two distinct F-SFFV genomes; one (clone 117) differed from the other (clone 118) due to the presence of a 39-bp in-frame deletion. Reconstitution to full-length F-SFFV genomes and a pathogenicity assay showed that each reconstituted F-SFFV was pathogenic, with clone 117 showing a higher degree of pathogenicity than clone 118. Both reconstituted F-SFFVs caused activation of the mouse erythropoietin receptor in the factor-independent cell proliferation assay, although much less efficiently than the wild-type polycythemia-inducing isolate F-SFFVp. Clone 118 produced a gp55 of 59 kDa, while clone 117 produced one of 57 kDa. Clone 118 had a substitution by the F-MuLV clone 57 gp70 sequence, indicating that it was derived from the F-SFFVMS env gene by a homologous recombination with the F-MuLV clone 57 env gene. The site of the 39-bp deletion in clone 117 corresponded to the portion of the clone 118 sequence which was unique to the ecotropic env genes. These results indicated the importance for the biological activity of gp55 of the sequences in the gp70 differential region, which are contained in both polytropic and ecotropic env genes.