Poly-2'-O-(2,4-dinitrophenyl)poly[A] (DNP-poly[A] is a potent inhibitor of reverse transcriptases from a variety of sources (I. Kang and J. H. Wang, J. Biol. Chem. 269:12024-12031, 1994). In the present study, its inhibitory effect on the reverse transcriptase (RT) from Moloney murine leukemia virus (MuLV) was investigated. DNP-poly[A] was found to enter the virus spontaneously and to completely inhibit the RT within 30 min at 0 degree C. The inhibitor was also spontaneously transported into isolated human lymphocytes and leukocytes at 37 degrees C. Animal studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of DNP-poly[A] as an antiviral drug when administered intraperitoneally at various doses from 1 to 100 mg/kg of body weight. MuLV-infected mice show the presence of RT in their blood as well as increased numbers of leukocytes. After the administration of DNP-poly[A] at a dosage of 100 mg/kg of body weight three times a week over a 3-week period, RT could no longer be detected by an ultrasensitive RT-PCR assay. Autopsy showed that the spleens of infected but untreated mice were enlarged 2- to 10-fold, with fused nodules and the proliferation of large abnormal lymphocytes, whereas the spleens of infected but treated mice resembled the normal spleens of uninfected control mice. These observations indicate that further study of DNP-poly[A] as a general antiretroviral agent is desirable.