The complete nucleotide sequence of the NS mRNA of vesicular stomatitis virus (New Jersey serotype) was established from two cDNA clones spanning the entire coding region of the mRNA. The gene is 856 nucleotides long and can code for a polypeptide of 274 amino acids. Comparison with the nucleotide sequence of the NS gene of the Indiana serotype revealed only 41% sequence homology. The deduced amino acid sequences of the NS proteins were only 32% homologous, with no identical stretches of more than five amino acids. However, at the C-terminal domain there was a conserved region of 21 amino acids with greater than 90% homology. Surprisingly, relative hydropathicity plots also demonstrated the presence of a large number of hydrophilic amino acids sequestered similarly over the N-terminal half of the protein. In addition, the total number of serine and threonine residues, presumptive phosphorylation sites, was similar and included seven serine and three threonine residues located at identical positions. It appears that during divergent evolution of these two vesicular stomatitis virus serotypes from a common ancestor, considerable mutation occurred in the main body of the gene but the overall structure of the protein was retained. The function of the NS protein in relation to the evolution of the two viruses is discussed.