Virus emergence is a complex phenomenon, which generally involves spread to a new host from a wild host, followed by adaptation to the new host. Although viruses account for the largest fraction of emerging crop pathogens, knowledge about their emergence is incomplete. We address here the question of whether Pepino mosaic virus (PepMV) emergence as a major tomato pathogen worldwide could have involved spread from wild to cultivated plant species and host adaptation. For this, we surveyed natural populations of wild tomatoes in southern Peru for PepMV infection. PepMV incidence, genetic variation, population structure, and accumulation in various hosts were analyzed. PepMV incidence in wild tomatoes was high, and a strain not yet reported in domestic tomato was characterized. This strain had a wide host range within the Solanaceae, multiplying efficiently in most assayed Solanum species and being adapted to wild tomato hosts. Conversely, PepMV isolates from tomato crops showed evidence of adaptation to domestic tomato, possibly traded against adaptation to wild tomatoes. Phylogenetic reconstructions indicated that the most probable ancestral sequence came from a wild Solanum species. A high incidence of PepMV in wild tomato relatives would favor virus spread to crops and its efficient multiplication in different Solanum species, including tomato, allowing its establishment as an epidemic pathogen. Later, adaptation to tomato, traded off against adaptation to other Solanum species, would isolate tomato populations from those in other hosts.