Primary cultures of woodchuck hepatocytes were demonstrated to be susceptible to in vitro infection by both woodchuck hepatitis virus and ground squirrel hepatitis virus, as evidenced by the appearance of DNA species characteristic of hepadnavirus replication. Initiation of infection by woodchuck hepatitis virus was blocked by the presence of suramin, polybrene, or dideoxycytidine. Viral CCC DNA, the putative template for viral RNA transcription, was detected at 2 days postinfection. Accumulation of intracellular intermediates in virion DNA synthesis was negligible until 7-10 days postinfection, but these DNA intermediates then increased dramatically in amount over the next few weeks. Results were obtained which suggested that the prolonged accumulation of intermediates in virion DNA synthesis was an intrinsic property of the infection of individual cells, and not the result of a slow spread of virus through the cultures.