Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) produces a persistent infection of the nervous system in susceptible mice. To map the localization of viral antigens in the central nervous system (CNS), the authors studied, by means of ultrastructural immune peroxidase techniques, 4-6-month-old mice persistently infected with LCMV following an intracerebral inoculation at birth. The greatest number of infected neurons was observed in the cortex, particularly of the limbic system, and certain nuclei of the hypothalamus. In the cerebellum, Purkinje cells selectively expressed viral antigens. Moderate numbers of infected neurons were found in the anterior horns of the spinal cord, basal ganglia, and thalamus. The immunoperoxidase technique using monoclonal antibodies showed that persistently infected neurons primarily expressed the nucleocapsid protein antigens of LCMV. Glycopeptide antigens were minimally expressed. Electron-microscopic examination of selected individual infected neurons showed viral antigens exclusively associated with ribosomes. No staining was seen on cell surfaces. Glutaraldehyde-fixed CNS tissue studied by electron microscopy did not reveal morphologic abnormalities or mature viral particles. This study demonstrates that LCMV persistently infects specific neuronal populations. Infected neurons express viral antigens in association with host ribosomes and show no significant morphologic alterations.