We have investigated the replication of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) before and after the nerve growth factor (NGF)-induced transdifferentiation of PC12 cells from the chromaffin to the neuron-like phenotype. Untreated and NGF-treated cells were equally susceptible to LCMV infection; however, the viral yield was found to be 1,000-fold lower in NGF-differentiated PC12 cells. The reduced viral yield correlated with restricted LCMV replication and transcription within the infected cell, which was not caused by the lack of cell proliferation in the NGF-treated cells but rather was related to the induction or changes in expression levels of specific gene product(s) associated with the cell commitment to a neuronal phenotype. The return to the chromaffin phenotype after withdrawal of NGF restored normal LCMV yields as well as levels of viral replication and transcription. The finding of reduced viral replication in terminally differentiated neuronal cells has important implications for understanding the mechanism by which neurotropic viruses, such as LCMV, are able to establish a long-term persistent infection in the central nervous system in the absence of severe pathological changes.