Attempts were made to increase the efficiency of infectious particle formation during the in vitro assembly of bacteriophage T7 from procapsids and DNA. It was found that dextrans and some smaller, related compounds (sucrose and sorbitol) increase this efficiency by a factor of 8 to 50. Dextrans also inhibited elevated temperature-induced emptying of DNA from bacteriophages T7, P22, and T4, suggesting that the stimulation of assembly is caused, at least in part, by the stabilization of packaged DNA in capsids. The data indicated that the sugars and polyols can slow DNA emptying from bacteriophages at elevated temperature whether they permeate the bacteriophage capsid or not. In contrast, the data suggested that permeation of some particle, probably a capsid, results in inhibition of in vitro T7 assembly.