Northern (RNA) blot analysis has been used to show that synthesis of early mRNA species is similar in monkey cells productively or abortively infected with human adenovirus. mRNA species from all five major early regions (1A, 1B, 2, 3, 4) are identical in size and comparable in abundance whether isolated from monkey cells infected with adenovirus type 2 or with the host range mutant Ad2hr400 or coinfected with adenovirus type 2 plus simian virus 40. The mRNA species isolated from monkey cells are identical in size to those isolated from human cells. Production of virus-associated RNA is also identical in productive and abortive infections of monkey cells. Synthesis of virus-associated RNA is, however, significantly greater in HeLa cells than in CV1 cells at late times after infection regardless of which virus is used in the infection.