Two putative promoters from Australian banana streak badnavirus (BSV) isolates were analysed for activity in different plant species. In transient expression systems the My (2105 bp) and Cv (1322 bp) fragments were both shown to have promoter activity in a wide range of plant species including monocots (maize, barley, banana, millet, wheat, sorghum), dicots (tobacco, canola, sunflower, Nicotiana benthamiana, tipu tree), gymnosperm (Pinus radiata) and fern (Nephrolepis cordifolia). Evaluation of the My and Cv promoters in transgenic sugarcane, banana and tobacco plants demonstrated that these promoters could drive high-level expression of either the green fluorescent protein (GFP) or the beta -glucuronidase (GUS) reporter gene (uidA) in vegetative plant cells. In transgenic sugarcane plants harbouring the Cv promoter, GFP expression levels were comparable or higher (up to 1.06% of total soluble leaf protein as GFP) than those of plants containing the maize ubiquitin promoter (up to 0.34% of total soluble leaf protein). GUS activities in transgenic in vitro-grown banana plants containing the My promoter were up to seven-fold stronger in leaf tissue and up to four-fold stronger in root and corm tissue than in plants harbouring the maize ubiquitin promoter. The Cv promoter showed activities that were similar to the maize ubiquitin promoter in in vitro-grown banana plants, but was significantly reduced in larger glasshouse-grown plants. In transgenic in vitro-grown tobacco plants, the My promoter reached activities close to those of the 35S promoter of cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV), while the Cv promoter was about half as active as the CaMV 35S promoter. The BSV promoters for pregenomic RNA represent useful tools for the high-level expression of foreign genes in transgenic monocots.