Ectromelia virus is the causative agent of mousepox, an acute exanthematous disease of mouse colonies in Europe, Japan, China, and the U.S. The Moscow, Hampstead, and NIH79 strains are the most thoroughly studied with the Moscow strain being the most infectious and virulent for the mouse. In the late 1940s mousepox was proposed as a model for the study of the pathogenesis of smallpox and generalized vaccinia in humans. Studies in the last five decades from a succession of investigators have resulted in a detailed description of the virologic and pathologic disease course in genetically susceptible and resistant inbred and out-bred mice. We report the DNA sequence of the left-hand end, the predicted right-hand terminal repeat, and central regions of the genome of the Moscow strain of ectromelia virus (approximately 177,500 bp), which together with the previously sequenced right-hand end, yields a genome of 209,771 bp. We identified 175 potential genes specifying proteins of between 53 and 1924 amino acids, and 29 regions containing sequences related to genes predicted in other poxviruses, but unlikely to encode for functional proteins in ectromelia virus. The translated protein sequences were compared with the protein database for structure/function relationships, and these analyses were used to investigate poxvirus evolution and to attempt to explain at the cellular and molecular level the well-characterized features of the ectromelia virus natural life cycle. © 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.