Barley stripe mosaic virus (BSMV) contains three positive-sense, single-stranded genomic RNAs, designated alpha, beta, and gamma, that encode seven major proteins and one minor translational readthrough protein. Three proteins (alphaa, betaa, and gammaa) are translated directly from the genomic RNAs and the remaining proteins encoded on RNAbeta and RNAgamma are expressed via three subgenomic messenger RNAs (sgRNAs). sgRNAbeta1 directs synthesis of the triple gene block 1 (TGB1) protein. The TGB2 protein, the TGB2' minor translational readthrough protein, and the TGB3 protein are expressed from sgRNAbeta2, which is present in considerably lower abundance than sgRNAbeta1. A third sgRNA, sgRNAgamma, is required for expression of the gammab protein. We have used deletion analyses and site-specific mutations to define the boundaries of promoter regions that are critical for expression of the BSMV sgRNAs in infected protoplasts. The results reveal that the sgRNAbeta1 promoter encompasses positions -29 to -2 relative to its transcription start site and is adjacent to a cis-acting element required for RNAbeta replication that maps from -107 to -74 relative to the sgRNAbeta1 start site. The core sgRNAbeta2 promoter includes residues -32 to -17 relative to the sgRNAbeta2 transcriptional start site, although maximal activity requires an upstream hexanucleotide sequence residing from positions -64 to -59. The sgRNAgamma promoter maps from -21 to +2 relative to its transcription start site and therefore partially overlaps the gammaa gene. The sgRNAbeta1, beta2, and gamma promoters also differ substantially in sequence, but have similarities to the putative homologous promoters of other Hordeiviruses. These differences are postulated to affect competition for the viral polymerase, coordination of the temporal expression and abundance of the TGB proteins, and constitutive expression of the gammab protein.