Avian reoviruses have been associated with several pathologic conditions, but correlative relationships between genotypes and specific diseases have not been demonstrated. Six avian reoviruses (883, 176, 81-5, S1133, FC, and TX) were selected for this study, and a comparative study of the pathogenic properties of the viruses in chickens, following peroral and footpad inoculation, was carried out, along with a comparison of the electrophoretic mobility of viral genomic segments and viral proteins encoded by the gene segments. The pathogenic properties of the viruses were shown to be diverse, with three distinct pathotypes being defined: Pathotype I (883) caused only a syndrome that we have termed "transient digestive system disorder" (TDSD); Pathotype II (FC, TX, and S1133) caused only "viral arthritis syndrome" (VAS), whereas Pathotype III (176 and 81-5) caused both TDSD and VAS. Likewise, the genomes of the viruses were shown to be extremely polymorphic, with a maximum of five segments co-migrating between any two strains. Considerable variation in the electrophoretic mobility of the encoded proteins also was demonstrated with pronounced variation in the molecular size of the sigma 4 protein, the purported viral attachment protein, being evident. These results show that the genomes of avian reoviruses were extremely polymorphic, preventing correlation between genotypes and pathotypes. But these studies have provided us with the genetic elements needed to characterize the gene functions involved in viral pathogenesis.