Infection of cells by foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) causes the rapid inhibition of cellular cap-dependent protein synthesis that results from cleavage of the translation initiation factor eIF4G, a component of the cap-binding complex eIF4F. Two FMDV proteins, the leader (L) and 3C proteases, have been shown individually to induce cleavage of eIF4GI at distinct sites within baby hamster kidney (BHK) cells. Here, sequential cleavage of eIF4GI by the L and 3C proteases was demonstrated in FMDV-infected BHK cells. The FMDV 3C cleavage site within hamster eIF4GI was localized to a small region (about 40 aa) of the protein, between the sites cleaved by the poliovirus 2A protease and the human immunodeficiency virus type 2 protease. Human eIF4GI was found to be resistant to the action of the FMDV 3C protease. On the basis of amino acid sequence alignments, it was predicted and then verified that substitution of a single amino acid residue within this region of human eIF4GI conferred sensitivity to cleavage by the FMDV 3C protease within cells. Full-length eIF4GI and both forms of the C-terminal cleavage product must be capable of supporting the activity of the FMDV internal ribosome entry site in directing translation initiation.