A number of size variants of the p53 protein have been described in mammal, but little is known about alternative splicing of p53 expression and function in the fish. In our previous study, the immune defense and antiviral responses of p53 had been determined in mandarin fish (Siniperca chuatsi). However, the role of its splicing variants remains unknown. In the present study, the organization of mandarin fish p53 (Sc-p53) genome sequence was determined and a novel splice variant was characterized. The Sc-p53 genomic sequence was composed of 5543 bp, containing 11 exons and 10 introns, which was similar to other species. Then, a 1106 bp full-length cDNA of a novel splice variant p53 from mandarin fish (designed as Sc-p53I6) was cloned and characterized. Quantitative real-time PCR assays revealed that Sc-p53I6 was expressed in all tissues examined, and it was most abundant in the gill, hemocyte and hind kidney. Western blotting analysis revealed that Sc-p53I6 protein was abundant in liver, trunk kidney, hind kidney, stomach and heart. In addition, the regulation of Sc-p53I6 gene expression after virus infection was determined and characterized. The results showed twice rise expression pattern of Sc-p53I6 in CPB cells and spleen of mandarin fish in response to infectious kidney and spleen necrosis virus (ISKNV). However, a different expression pattern, once rise, of Sc-p53I6 in response to Siniperca chuatsi rhabdovirus (SCRV) infection was found. The mRNA expression of Sc-p53I6 was significantly up-regulated in CPB at 4 h and spleen of mandarin fish at 12 h post-infection. These results will shed a new light on antiviral response mechanisms of p53 in mandarin fish.