Cassava brown streak virus (CBSV) and Ugandan cassava brown streak virus (UCBSV) are responsible for significant cassava yield losses in eastern sub-Saharan Africa. To study the possible mechanisms of plant resistance to CBSVs, we inoculated CBSV-susceptible and CBSV-resistant cassava varieties with a mixed infection of CBSVs using top-cleft grafting. Transcriptome profiling of the two cassava varieties was performed at the earliest time point of full infection (28 days after grafting) in the susceptible scions. The expression of genes encoding proteins in RNA silencing, salicylic acid pathways and callose deposition was altered in the susceptible cassava variety, but transcriptional changes were limited in the resistant variety. In total, the expression of 585 genes was altered in the resistant variety and 1292 in the susceptible variety. Transcriptional changes led to the activation of β-1,3-glucanase enzymatic activity and a reduction in callose deposition in the susceptible cassava variety. Time course analysis also showed that CBSV replication in susceptible cassava induced a strong up-regulation of RDR1, a gene previously reported to be a susceptibility factor in other potyvirus-host pathosystems. The differences in the transcriptional responses to CBSV infection indicated that susceptibility involves the restriction of callose deposition at plasmodesmata. Aniline blue staining of callose deposits also indicated that the resistant variety displays a moderate, but significant, increase in callose deposition at the plasmodesmata. Transcriptome data suggested that resistance does not involve typical antiviral defence responses (i.e. RNA silencing and salicylic acid). A meta-analysis of the current RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) dataset and selected potyvirus-host and virus-cassava RNA-seq datasets revealed that the conservation of the host response across pathosystems is restricted to genes involved in developmental processes.