A 1369 bp DNA fragment (Sc) was isolated from a full-length clone of sugarcane bacilliform badnavirus (ScBV) and was shown to have promoter activity in transient expression assays using monocot (banana, maize, millet and sorghum) and dicot plant species (tobacco, sunflower, canola and Nicotiana benthamiana). This promoter was also tested for stable expression in transgenic banana and tobacco plants. These experiments showed that this promoter could drive high-level expression of the beta-glucuronidase (GUS) reporter gene in most plant cells. The expression level was comparable to the maize ubiquitin promoter in standardised transient assays in maize. In transgenic banana plants the expression levels were variable for different transgenic lines but was generally comparable with the activities of both the maize ubiquitin promoter and the enhanced cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) 35S promoter. The Sc promoter appears to express in a near-constitutive manner in transgenic banana and tobacco plants. The promoter from sugarcane bacilliform virus represents a useful tool for the high-level expression of foreign genes in both monocot and dicot transgenic plants that could be used similarly to the CaMV 35S or maize polyubiquitin promoter.