Foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) induces a very rapid inhibition of host cell protein synthesis within infected cells. This is accompanied by the cleavage of the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4GI (eIF4GI). The cleavage of the related protein eIF4GII has now been analyzed. Within FMDV-infected cells, cleavage of eIF4GI and eIF4GII occurs with similar kinetics. Cleavage of eIF4GII is induced in cells and in cell extracts by the FMDV leader protease (L-pro) alone, generating cleavage products similar to those induced by enterovirus and rhinovirus 2A protease (2A(pro)). By the use of a fusion protein containing residues 445 to 744 of human eIF4GII, it was demonstrated that the FMDV L pro specifically cleaves this protein between residues 6700 and 5701, immediately adjacent to the site (V699/G700) cleaved by rhinovirus 2A pro in vitro. The G700/S701 cleavage site does not correspond, by amino acid sequence alignment, to that cleaved in eIF4GI by the FMDV L-pro in vitro. Knowledge of the cleavage sites and the three-dimensional structures of the FMDV L-pro and rhinovirus 2A(pro) enabled mutant forms of the eIF4GII sequence to be generated that are differentially resistant to either one of these proteases. These results confirmed the specificity of each protease and showed that the mutant forms of the fusion protein substrate retained their correct sensitivity to other proteases.