Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is a member of the genus Lentrivirus and causes AIDS-like disease in its natural host, the cat. Like other lentiviruses, FIV displays a high degree of nucleotide sequence variability that is reflected in both the geographic distribution of the viruses and the different cat species that are infected. Although a lot of data on sequence variation at the population level is available, relatively little is known about the intrahost variation of FIV sequences. In the present study, cats were infected with either a biological isolate of FIV or a molecular clone that was derived from the same isolate, AM19. After infection, the cats were monitored for up to 3 years and at various time points sequences were obtained of virus circulating in the plasma. Regions of the env gene and the orfA gene were amplified, cloned and their nucleotide sequence analyzed. Furthermore, the extent of sequence variation in the original inocula was also determined. It was found that FIV is displaying relative little sequence variation during infection of its host, both in the env and the orfA gene, especially after infection with molecular clone 19k1. Although the extent of variation was higher after infection with biological isolate AM19, a large portion of these variant sequences was already present in the inoculum. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.