Mouse thymic virus is a herpesvirus that causes extensive thymic necrosis when given to newborn mice. During the time of acute infection spleen cells have markedly diminished reactivity to T cell phytomitogens and to allogeneic cells and are incapable of effecting a primary in vitro response to a "T-dependent" antigen; responses to B cell mitogens and to a T-independent antigen are unimpaired. Spleens from acutely infected mice have low theta antigen normal numbers of immunoglobulin-bearing cells. Surprisingly, despite widespread necrosis and cellular depletion, thymic cell reactivity to mitogens is unimpaired. However, the ability to thymocytes to proliferate and to generate cytotoxic killer cells in response to allogeneic cells is diminished.