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Partial nucleotide sequence of the capsid polypeptide coding gene 1D (VP1) was determined for 68 serotype O foot-and-mouth disease viruses isolated between 1983 and 1995 from outbreaks occurring in Saudi Arabia. The sequences were compared with previously published sequences: 14 viruses of Middle Eastern origin (isolated between 1987 and 1991); and with four vaccine virus strain sequences, three originating from the Middle East (O1/Turkey/Manisa/69, O1/Sharquia/Egypt/72 and O1/Israel/2/85) and one from Europe (O1/BFS 1860/UK/67). The virus isolates from Saudi Arabia and the Middle East vaccine virus strains formed a related genetic group distinct from the European O1virus. Within this large group 12 distinct genetic sublineages were observed.