White spot syndrome virus (WSSV) is one of the most important pathogens of penaeid shrimp. It is widely distributed in most Asian countries where penaeid shrimp are cultured, as well as in the Gulf of Mexico and SE USA. The virulence of six geographic isolates of WSSV was compared using Litopenaeus vannamei postlarvae and Farfantepenaeus duorarum juveniles. The six geographic isolates of WSSV originated from China, India, Thailand, Texas, South Carolina, as well as from crayfish maintained at the USA National Zoo. For challenge studies, virus infected tissues were given per os to L. vannamei postlarvae and Fa. duorarum juveniles. Resultant WSSV infections were confirmed by histological examination. The cumulative mortality of L. vannamei postlarvae reached 100% after challenge with each of the six geographic isolates of WSSV. However, the Texas isolate caused mortalities more rapidly than did the other shrimp isolates; the crayfish WSSV isolate was the slowest. In marked contrast, cumulative mortalities of juvenile Fa. duorarum reached only 35-60%, and varied among the geographic isolates of WSSV. Interestingly, in Fa. duorarum, the Texas WSSV isolate was also the most virulent, while the crayfish WSSV was the least virulent. The findings suggest that slight differences in virulence exist among geographic isolates of WSSV, and that susceptibility may vary with species and lifestages of the host.