Wild plants of Brassica oleracea (wild cabbage) are commonly infected with turnip mosaic potyvirus (TuMV), turnip yellow mosaic tymovirus (TYMV) and several other viruses. A field experiment in which plants were inoculated either with TuMV or TYMV showed that virus infection significantly reduced survival, growth and reproduction. Relative to water inoculated-controls, plants infected with TYMV had greater mortality, were shorter, had a smaller leaf area and number, showed a greater amount of damage from herbivory and chlorosis, were less likely to flower and produced fewer pods and lower total seed output. Plants infected with TuMV did not appear to be adversely affected at first; however, mortality after 18 months was higher than control plants. Although TuMV infection had no effect on the number of plants flowering, the infected plants did produce fewer pods and a lower total seed output. We conclude that both viruses can significantly affect vegetative and reproductive performance of wild cabbage and hence that introgression of virus resistance (particularly when conferred by a major gene or a transgene) from a crop might increase plant fitness in natural populations of this species. Ecological risk assessments of virus resistance transgenes must do more than survey adult plants in natural populations for the presence of the target virus. Failure to detect the virus could be due to high mortality on infection with the virus.