Many functions of the poliovirus genome in virally infected cells have been elucidated. However, the role of 2B (and of its precursor polypeptide, 2BC), encoded by the P2 region in the poliovirus genome, remains unknown. We have employed a genetic approach to examine the role of 2B in poliovirus-infected cells. We report here the phenotype of one previously isolated mutant in the 2B coding region, 2B201. In addition, we have constructed one additional mutation in the 2B coding region of an infectious poliovirus cDNA clone. Upon transfection into monkey Vero cells we could recover two 2B mutant polioviruses, 2B204 and 2B205. All three mutants exhibited small-plaque phenotypes on monkey Vero and human HeLa cells and displayed primary defects in viral RNA synthesis. None of the 2B mutants could be complemented by wild-type virus. Instead, the mutants exhibited a dosage-dependent dominance over wild-type poliovirus. Thus, the phenotypes of these 2B mutants implicate 2B and possibly its precursor, 2BC, in viral RNA amplification in poliovirus-infected cells, and the dominance of the 2B mutants suggests a structural role for 2B in viral replication complexes.