The Poxvirus Bioinformatics Resource Center (PBRC) has been established to provide informational and analytical resources to the scientific community to aid research directed at providing a better understanding of the Poxviridae family of viruses. The PBRC was specifically established as the result of the concern that variola virus, the causative agent of smallpox, as well as related viruses, might be utilized as biological weapons. In addition, the PBRC supports research on poxviruses that might be considered new and emerging infectious agents such as monkeypox virus. The PBRC consists of a relational database and web application that supports the data storage, annotation, analysis and information exchange goals of the project. The current release consists of over 35 complete genomic sequences of various genera, species and strains of viruses from the Poxviridae family. Sequence and annotation information for these viruses has been obtained from sequences publicly available from GenBank as well as sequences not yet deposited in GenBank that have been obtained from ongoing sequencing projects. In addition to sequence data, the PBRC provides comprehensive annotation and curation of virus genes; analytical tools to aid in the understanding of the available sequence data, including tools for the comparative analysis of different virus isolates; and visualization tools to help better display the results of various analyses. The PBRC represents the initial development of what will become a more comprehensive Viral Bioinformatics Resource Center for Biodefense that will be one of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' 'Bioinformatics Resource Centers for Biodefense and Emerging or Re-Emerging Infectious Diseases'. The PBRC website is available at http://www.poxvirus.org. © Oxford University Press 2005; all rights reserved.