A subgenomic single-stranded DNA present in particles of the geminivirus, tomato golden mosaic virus, has been shown by electron microscope heteroduplex mapping and Southern hybridisation analysis to consist of circular molecules, ca. 1.2 kb in size, derived from the smaller of the two genomic DNA components, DNA B, by deletion of open reading frame (ORF) BR1 and the C-termlnal portion of ORF BL1. A covalently closed circular, supercoiled, double-stranded form of the subgenomic DNA has been isolated from virus-infected plants and cloned into pEMBL9. Analysis of the sequence of 22 clones across the deletion boundaries revealed only four different deletion boundaries, derived from four different left hand borders and three different right hand borders. Each border was within a region of 11 nucleotldes and gave rise to a narrow size range (1248-1261 nucleotides) for the population of 22 subgenomic DNAs. However apparently smaller subgenomic DNAs were sometimes formed when plants were inoculated with cloned subgenomic DNA, or a construct derived from a subgenomic DNA in which a neomycin phosphotransferase gene had been inserted, together with the genomic DNA components. Hechanisms to account for the size, specificity and formation of the subgenomic DNA are discussed.