Insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) play crucial roles in regulating cell differentiation, proliferation and apoptosis. In this study, a novel IGF homologue gene (IGF-like) encoded by Singapore grouper iridovirus (SGIV) ORF062R (termed SGIV-IGF), was cloned and characterized. The coding region of SGIV-IGF is 771 bp in length, with a variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR) locus at the 39-end. We cloned one isoform of this novel gene, 582 bp in length, containing the predicted IGF domain and 3.6 copy numbers of the 27 bp repeat unit. SGIV-IGF was an early transcribed gene during viral infection, and SGIV-IGF was distributed predominantly in the cytoplasm with a diffused granular appearance. Intriguingly, overexpression of SGIV-IGF was able to promote the growth of grouper embryonic cells (GP cells) by promoting G1/S phase transition, which was at least partially dependent on its 39-end VNTR locus. Furthermore, viral titre assay and real-time quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) analysis proved that SGIV-IGF could promote SGIV replication in grouper cells. In addition, overexpression of SGIV-IGF mildly facilitated apoptosis in SGIV-infected non-host fathead minnow (FHM) cells. Together, our study demonstrated a novel functional gene of SGIV which may regulate viral replication and cellular processes through multiple mechanisms that appear to be cell type-dependent. © 2013 SGM.