Numerous deaths of koi and common carp (Cyprinus carpio) were observed on many farms throughout Israel, resulting in severe financial losses. The lethal viral disease observed is highly contagious and extremely virulent, but morbidity and mortality are restricted to koi and common carp populations. Diseased fish exhibit fatigue and gasping movements in shallow water. Infected fish had interstitial nephritis and gill necrosis as well as petechial hemorrhages in the liver and other symptoms that were not consistent with viral disease, suggesting a secondary infection. Here we report the isolation of carp nephritis and gill necrosis virus (CNGV), which is the etiologic agent of this disease. The virus propagates and induces severe cytopathic effects by 5 days postinfection in fresh koi or carp fin cell cultures (KFC and CFC, respectively), but not in epithelioma papillosum cyprini cells. The virus harvested from KFC cultures induced the same clinical signs, with a mortality of 75 to 95%, upon inoculation into naive koi and common carp. Using PCR, we provide final proof that the isolated virus is indeed the etiologic agent of food and ornamental carp mortalities in fish husbandry. Electron microscopy revealed viral cores with icosahedral morphology of 100 to 110 nm that resembled herpesviruses. Electron micrographs of purified pelleted CNGV sections, together with viral sensitivities to ether and Triton X-100, suggested that it is an enveloped virus. However, the genome of the isolated virus is a double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) molecule of 270 to 290 kbp, which is larger than known herpesviruses. The viral DNA seems highly divergent and bears only small fragments (16 to 45 bp) that are similar to the genomes of several DNA viruses. Nevertheless, amino acid sequences encoded by CNGV DNA fragments bear similarities primarily to members of the Poxviridae and Herpesviridae and to other large dsDNA viruses. We suggest, therefore, that the etiologic agent of this disease may represent an as yet unclassified virus species that is endemic in C. carpio (carp).