Primary mouse cells transformed by adenovirus type 12 (Ad12) expressed negligible amounts of class I antigens H-2K, -D, and -L on the cell surface and were capable of forming tumors in syngeneic animals, whereas cells transformed by Ad5 continued to express class I antigens and were nontumorigenic. Cells from a tumor, generated by injection of Ad12-transformed mouse cells into a syngeneic mouse, also expressed low levels of H-2 antigens, indicating that this phenotype is maintained in vivo. In all Ad12-transformed cells, synthesis of the H-2 heavy chain was not detected whereas the beta 2-microglobulin light chain was synthesized. Furthermore, the level of cytoplasmic H-2 mRNA in the Ad12 lines was greatly reduced. Reduction of H-2 expression is instructed solely by the transforming region of the viral genome, since this repression occurred in cells transformed by a DNA fragment containing only Ad12 E1A and E1B genes. Addition of recombinant murine interferon gamma strongly stimulated expression of class I antigens in the Ad12 transformants as well as in cells from the Ad12 tumor. This result indicates that Ad12 does not preferentially transform cells that are deficient for class I genes and that Ad12 does not mutate the class I genes in cells it transforms. The correlation between tumorigenicity and loss of H-2 expression in Ad12-transformed cells is discussed.