A potyvirus causing severe mosaic symptoms was isolated from Senna occidentalis (syn. Cassia occidentalis) in the Yemen Republic and Ethiopia. It was transmitted mechanically and by Myzus persicae in a non-persistent manner. The flexuous, rod-shaped particles had a mean length of 830 nm, and pinwheels and scrolls were observed by electron microscopy of thin sections of infected Nicotiana clevelandii leaves. Its host range was narrow with only a few legume species, Nicotiana clevelandii and N. benthamiana susceptible to experimental infection. This virus was purified from N. clevelandii and the coat protein had a molecular mass of 34-5 kDa. It reacted positively in ELISA with monoclonal antibody 197 that is specific for potyviruses, but was not decorated by antibodies to any other potyvirus tested when examined by electron microscopy. The virus has been tentatively named cassia severe mosaic potyvirus.