Murine gammaherpesvirus is a natural pathogen of wild rodents. We have established that in vivo the virus persists in B lymphocytes in a latent form and therefore has similar biological properties to Epstein-Barr virus and related gamma-I-herpesviruses. In this report we have established a persistent infection in mouse myeloma (B) cells (NSO cell line), but not in mouse thymoma (T) cells (BW 5147 cell line). The virus persists indefinitely in myeloma cells, without any apparent cytopathic effect, but with the production of infectious virus. We demonstrate that ACV abolishes the productive infection, but large numbers of cells harbor the virus in a latent form, as determined by an infectious center assay. Analysis of the viral DNA has shown that during a persistent infection linear virus genomes predominated, with low levels of circular DNA also present. Treatment of cells with ACV results in a significant reduction of linear genomes, but has no effect on the level of circular DNA molecules. These data provide further evidence to support our earlier observations on B cells as the site of latency and provides an in vitro model with which to study the molecular basis of MHV-68 latency/persistence.