DNA of the variola major virus strain India-1967 in the region of HindIII M, L, I fragments has been sequenced. Analysis of this sequence of 18029 bp revealed 19 potential open reading frames (ORFs). Four proposed proteins (L2R, H9R, L5L, L6R) contain metal-binding domains. Comparison of the variola virus (VAR) and vaccinia virus strain Copenhagen (COP) sequences show that the main differences are between proteins L1R and I5R. L1R contains 6 additional amino acid residues on the C-terminus. The protein I5R of VAR contains three Ca2+ binding domains but this COP has deletions in 2 of the 3 established domains. Possible functions of the predicted viral polypeptides are discussed. © 1993.