Viral variants with different biological properties are present in the central nervous systems (CNS) and lymphoid tissues of mice persistently infected with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV). Viral isolates from the CNS are similar to the original Armstrong LCMV strain and induce potent virus-specific T-cell responses in adult mice, and the infection is rapidly cleared. In contrast, LCMV isolates derived from spleens of carrier mice cause persistent infections in adult mice. This chronic infection is associated with low levels of antiviral T-cell responses. In this study, we genetically characterized two independently derived spleen variants by making recombinants (reassortants) between the spleen isolates and wild-type (wt) LCMV and showed that the ability to persist in adult mice and the associated suppression of T-cell responses segregates with the large (L) RNA segment. In addition, we analyzed a revertant (isolated from the CNS) derived from one of the spleen variants. By comparing the biological properties of three reassortants that contained the same S segment but had the L segment of either the original wt Armstrong LCMV, the spleen variant derived from it, or the CNS revertant derived from the spleen variant, we were able to show unequivocally that biologically relevant mutations occurred in the L segment not only during generation of the spleen variant from wt LCMV but also in reversion of the spleen variant to the wt phenotype. Thus, our results showed that (i) genetic alterations in the L genomic segment were involved in organ-specific selection of viral variants, and (ii) these mutations profoundly affected the ability of LCMV to cause chronic infections in adult mice.