One of the difficulties in controlling foot and mouth disease by vaccination is the occurrence of the virus as seven distinct serotypes because immunity conferred by vaccination against one serotype leaves the animals susceptible to infection by the other six. Moreover, the antigenic variation, even within a serotype, can be so great that immunity against the homologous strain of virus need not necessarily ensure protection against infection by other viruses within that serotype. Here we report the separation of three natural antigenic variants, distinguishable in cross-neutralization tests from an isolate of foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV). The serological differences could also be demonstrated by antisera elicited by synthetic peptides corresponding to residues 141-160 of the capsid polypeptide VP1, showing that this region contains a major immunogenic site of the virus. The results have practical implications for the choice of viruses for vaccine production.