Macrophages harvested from the peritoneal cavities of mice of several strains were permissive to infection with murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV). Macrophages from six mouse strains released equivalent amounts of plaque-forming virus into the culture fluids and cells from mouse strains scored similarly in numbers of infectious centres. Twenty to 50% of the infected macrophages obtained after thioglycollate activation formed infectious centres. When studied by in situ hybridization, more than 82% of infected macrophages (with or without thioglycollate activation) contained MCMV DNA. Macrophages obtained from latently infected mice were examined for their content of MCMV. Using co-cultivation assays, MCMV was frequently recovered from thioglycollate activated macrophages harvested from latently infected mice but only rarely recovered from non-activated macrophages. MCMV DNA--mouse DNA hybridization assays revealed four to seven virus genome DNA copies per 100 cells. These studies indicate that macrophages harvested from mice susceptible (BALB/cSt) or resistant (C3H) to MCMV infection replicated virus equivalently and that macrophages are a reservoir of MCMV during latent and chronic infections. Activation of macrophages may be one of the important steps leading to the exacerbation of in vivo latent infections.