A subtractive PCR methodology known as representational difference analysis was used to clone specific nucleotide sequences present in the infectious plasma from a tamarin infected with the GB hepatitis agent. Eleven unique clones were identified, seven of which were examined extensively. All seven clones appeared to be derived from sequences exogenous to the genomes of humans, tamarins, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and Escherichia coli. In addition, sequences from these clones were not detected in plasma or liver tissue of tamarins prior to their inoculation with the GB agent. These sequences were detected by reverse transcription-PCR in acute-phase plasma of tamarins inoculated with the GB agent. Probes derived from two of the seven clones detected an RNA species of > or = 8.3 kb in the liver of a GB-agent-infected tamarin by Northern blot hybridization. Sequence analysis indicated that five of the seven clones encode polypeptides that possess limited amino acid identity with the nonstructural proteins of hepatitis C virus. Extension of the sequences found in the seven clones revealed that plasma from an infected tamarin contained two RNA molecules > 9 kb long. Limited sequence identity with various isolates of hepatitis C virus and the relative positions of putative RNA helicases and RNA-dependent RNA polymerases in the predicted protein products of these molecules suggested that the GB agent contains two unique flavivirus-like genomes.