Abstract: Between 1981 and 1998, 37 cases of rabies were diagnosed in human beings in the United States. Information directly linking the cause of infection to animal bite was available for only eight of these cases. Indirect incrimination of the vector by analysis of cDNA sequences obtained by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction of samples indicated that for all cases (12/12) believed to have been acquired in foreign countries, variants of the rabies virus (VRVs) associated with dogs (7/12 involved known bite histories) were the cause of the rabies infections. In contrast, VRVs associated with bats (bat-associated VRVs or BAVs) were implicated as the cause of 88% (22/25) of infections believed to have been acquired within the United States (1/22 involved known bite histories). Sequence analyses revealed that a single BAV (Ln/Ps), associated with rabid silver-haired (Lasionycteris noctivagans) and Eastern pipistrelle (Pipistrellus subflavus) bats, was implicated in 73% (16/22) of bat-associated infections. Silver-haired bats are predominantly solitary and migratory. Eastern pipistrelle bats may occur individually or in small clusters. Both species are only infrequently submitted for rabies testing. Unrecognized bites and unique properties of the Ln/Ps BAV may explain its association with the majority of rabies infections in human beings in the United States.