We studied the infectivity of endogenous ecotropic murine leukemia virus genomes contained in high-molecular-weight DNA prepared from virus-free cells of the AKR-2B line, and from RF, BALB/c, B6, and (BALB/c × B6)F1 mouse embryo cells. When DNA prepared from virus-free AKR-2B cells was transfected into NIH-3T3 cells, no virus-positive cultures were observed, a result consistent with previous reports. However, when DNAs from virus-free AKR-2B cells or virus-free cells containing the RF/J or BALB/c ecotropic proviruses were transfected into chicken embryo cells that were then cocultivated with SC-1 (mouse) cells, virus-positive cultures were recovered. The specific infectivities of the AKR provirus(es) contained in virus-free cells and the molecularly cloned Akv-1 provirus were similar when chicken embryo cells were used as primary recipients. Virus-positive cultures were also observed when secondary mouse embryo cells were used as recipients for DNA from virus-free AKR-2B and RF/J cells. The transfected chicken embryo-SC-1 cultures produced XC-positive murine leukemia virus that is N-tropic. Virus-positive recipient cultures were observed 10- to 100-fold more frequently when AKR-2B DNA was used than when BALB/c DNA was used as the donor DNA. Our studies indicate that some nonexpressed ecotropic murine leukemia virus proviruses are activated upon transfection into chicken embryo cells. Such studies suggest that there are different factors governing the expression of murine leukemia virus after transfection into established cell lines (NIH-3T3) and into nonestablished secondary cultures (chicken and mouse).