Animal cells can be cultured both in basal media supplemented with fetal bovine serum (FBS) and in serum-free media. In this work, the supplementation of Grace's medium with a set of nutrients to reduce FBS requirements in Spodoptera frugiperda (Sf9) cell culture was evaluated, aiming the production of Anticarsia gemmatalis nucleopolyhedrovirus (AgMNPV) at a cost lower than those for the production using Sf900 II medium. In Grace's medium supplemented with glucose, Pluronic F68 (PF68) and yeast extract (YE), the effects of FBS and milk whey ultrafiltrate (MWU) on cell concentration and viability during midexponential and stationary growth phase were evaluated. In spite of the fact that FBS presented higher statistical effects than MWU on all dependent variables in the first cell passage studies, after cell adaptation, AgMNPV polyhedra production was comparable to that in Sf900 II. Batch cultivation in Grace's medium with 2.7 g l(-1) glucose, 8 g l(-1) YE and 0.1% (w/v) PF68 supplemented with 1% (w/v) MWU and 3% (v/v) FBS increased viable cell concentration to about 5-fold (4.7x10(6) cells ml(-1)) when compared to Grace's containing 10% (v/v) FBS (9.5x10(5) cells ml(-1)). AgMNPV polyhedra (PIBs) production was around 3-fold higher in the MWU supplemented medium (1.6x10(7) PIBs ml(-1)) than in Grace's medium with 10% FBS (0.6x10(7) PIBs ml(-1)). This study therefore shows a promising achievement to significantly reduce FBS concentration in Sf9 insect cell media, keeping high productivity in terms of cell concentration and final virus production at a cost almost 50% lower than that observed for Sf900 II medium.