Avian encephalomyelitis virus (AEV) is a picornavirus that causes disease in poultry worldwide, and flocks must be vaccinated for protection. AEV is currently classified within the hepatovirus genus, since its proteins are most closely related to those of hepatitis A virus (HAV). We now provide evidence that the 494-nucleotide-long 5' untranslated region of the AEV genome contains an internal ribosome entry site (IRES) element that functions efficiently in vitro and in mammalian cells. Unlike the HAV IRES, the AEV IRES is relatively short and functions in the presence of cleaved eIF4G and it is also resistant to an inhibitor of eIF4A. These properties are reminiscent of the recently discovered class of IRES elements within certain other picornaviruses, such as porcine teschovirus 1 (PTV-1). Like the PTV-1 IRES, the AEV IRES shows significant similarity to the hepatitis C virus (HCV) IRES in sequence, function, and predicted secondary structure. Furthermore, mutational analysis of the predicted pseudoknot structure at the 3' end of the AEV IRES lends support to the secondary structure we present. AEV is therefore another example of a picornavirus harboring an HCV-Iike IRES element within its genome, and thus, its classification within the hepatovirus genus may need to be reassessed in light of these findings.