Chimeric foot-and-mouth disease viruses (FMDVs) have been generated from plasmids containing full-length FMDV cDNAs and characterized. The parental virus cDNA was derived from the cell-culture-adapted O1Kaufbeuren B64 (O1K B64) strain. Chimeric viruses, containing capsid coding sequences derived from the O/UKG/34/2001 or A/Turkey 2/2006 field viruses, were constructed using the backbone from the O1K B64 cDNA, and viable viruses (O1K/O-UKG and O1K/A-Tur, respectively) were successfully rescued in each case. These viruses grew well in primary bovine thyroid cells but grew less efficiently in BHK cells than the rescued parental O1K B64 virus. The two chimeric viruses displayed the expected antigenicity in serotype-specific antigen ELISAs. Following inoculation of each virus into cattle, the rescued O1K B64 strain proved to be attenuated whereas, with each chimeric virus, typical clinical signs of foot-and-mouth disease were observed, which then spread to in-contact animals. Thus, the surface-exposed capsid proteins of the O1K B64 strain are responsible for its attenuation in cattle. Consequently, there is no evidence for any adaptation, acquired during cell culture, outside the capsid coding region within the O1K B64 strain that inhibits replication in cattle. These chimeric infectious cDNA plasmids provide a basis for the analysis of FMDV pathogenicity and characterization of receptor utilization in vivo.