Abstract Jaagsiekte sheep retrovirus (JSRV) causes a fatal lung cancer of sheep known as ovine pulmonary adenocarcinoma (OPA). OPA is a significant disease in many sheep-rearing countries and there is no effective method of control. A unique feature of OPA is the overproduction of fluid in the lung of affected animals. This lung fluid contains JSRV and provides a means of transmission through the inhalation of virus. In this study we demonstrated that lung fluid from different OPA cases contained between 10 7 and 10 10 copies of JSRV RNA per ml. Examination of JSRV RNA survival under conditions that mimic natural conditions suggested that intact JSRV virions may persist for several weeks in the environment. These are the first quantitative data on JSRV in lung fluid and provide valuable information for implementing appropriate biosecurity measures to control the spread of JSRV in the field.