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The grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) hemorrhagic disease, caused by grass carp reovirus (GCRV), is one of the most severe infectious diseases in aquaculture. Given that antiviral therapies are currently limitedly available, vaccination remains the most effective means for the prevention of viral diseases, such as GCRV. A reovirus strain, which was temporarily named GCRV-HN14, was recently isolated from grass carp in Henan province, China. The S11 gene fragment of GCRV-HN14 was speculated to encode viral structural protein VP35, which has no equivalent gene in other aquareviruses but has antigenic epitopes. In this study, the recombinant plasmid pET-32a-vp35 was constructed to express recombinant VP35 proteins in prokaryotic cells, which was used to create a novel subunit vaccine. The immune protection of recombinant VP35 protein was evaluated by a series of experiments in grass carp. Results showed that the number of white blood cells (WBC) in the peripheral blood increased significantly to 7.92 ± 0.72 × 107/ml 5 days after vaccination (P < 0.05). The number of neutrophils and monocytes in WBC were significantly higher than those of the control 3 days after vaccination (P < 0.05) and maximally got to 12.22 ± 1.28% and 18.70 ± 1.78%, respectively. Owing to the significant increase in the number of lymphocytes (92.37 ± 2.10%; P < 0.01), the percentages of neutrophils and monocytes declined significantly (14 dpi; P < 0.01). Serum antibody levels induced by recombinant VP35 protein significantly increased 7 days post immunization and continued to increase until 5 weeks post vaccination. The mRNA expression levels of type I interferon (designated as IFN1), immunoglobulin M, Toll-like receptor 22 and major histocompatibility complex class I were up-regulated significantly in the head kidneys and spleens of immunized fish (P < 0.01). Grass carp immunized by recombinant VP35 protein showed that the relative percentage of survival was about 60% after it was challenged with GCRV. Overall, the results suggested that recombinant VP35 protein can induce immunity and protect grass carp against GCRV infection. Thus, it can be used as a subunit vaccine.A novel VP35 subunit vaccine was developed for grass carp reovirus.Plasmid pET-32a-vp35 was successfully constructed to express VP35.VP35 subunit vaccine can effectively stir protective immunity against GCRV.Survival rate of fish immunized by rVP35 remarkably increased after GCRV challenge.