Measles virus suppresses T lymphocyte functions in vitro. When measles virus-infected T lymphocytes are stimulated with PHA or 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate, plus calcium ionophore, the cells secrete IL-2 and express the IL-2R or Tac Ag to a similar extent as uninfected cells, yet proliferation is reduced by 50 to 90%. Stimulated infected T cells also express the cell surface activation Ag 4F2, transferrin R, and HLA-DR. The secretion of IFN-gamma by infected T cells in response to PHA is not suppressed at 24 to 72 h after stimulation. Total RNA synthesis at 48 and 72 h after stimulation is reduced in infected T lymphocytes. Infectious measles virus progeny are produced during this interval. Thus infected T lymphocytes can become activated in response to mitogenic stimuli and the cells support efficient viral replication before the block in cell proliferation.