Rotaviruses (RVs), a leading cause of severe diarrhea in young children and many mammalian species, have evolved multiple strategies to counteract the host innate immunity, specifically interferon (IFN) signaling through RV non-structural protein 1 (NSP1). However, whether RV structural components also subvert antiviral response remains under-studied. Here, we found that MAVS, critical for the host RNA sensing pathway upstream of IFN induction, is degraded by the RV RNA methyl-and guanylyl-transferase (VP3) in a host-range-restricted manner. Mechanistically, VP3 localizes to the mitochondria and mediates the phosphorylation of a previously unidentified SPLTSS motif within the MAVS proline-rich region, leading to its proteasomal degradation and blockade of IFN-l production in RV-infected intestinal epithelial cells. Importantly, VP3 inhibition of MAVS activity contributes to enhanced RV replication and to viral pathogenesis in vivo. Collectively, our findings establish RV VP3 as a viral antagonist of MAVS function in mammals and uncover a novel pathogen-mediated inhibitory mechanism of MAVS signaling. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.39494.001.