In the present study, mice each given a single intraperitoneal injection of Escherichia coli lipopolysaccharide (LPS) responded with increased serum levels of the major envelope glycoprotein, gp70, of endogenous retrovirus. Concentrations of gp70 in their sera began to increase 4 hr after LPS injection, reached maximal 5- to 15-fold increases after 12--24 hr, and returned to the preinjection levels within 3 days. This response occurred only in the strains characterized by high base line levels of serum gp70 (greater than 10 micrograms/ml) such as NZB, NZB X NZW F1, BXSB, MRL, NZW, DBA/2, LG, 129(GIX+), and C57BL/6(GIX+). However, strains such as DBA/1, C3H/St, BALB/c, C57BL/6(GIX-), and 129(GIX-) with lower base line levels of serum gp70 (less than 5 micrograms/ml) made little or no response. This serum gp70 induced by LPS was structurally similar to the gp70 of NZB xenotropic virus that is dominantly expressed in sera from virtually all strains of mice. However, (i) the induced gp70 was virion-free; (ii) xenotropic virus was not isolatable from BXSB, MRL/1, or 129(GIX+) mice injected with LPS; and (iii) amounts of the major structural viral protein, p30, did not increase correspondingly in sera. All of these findings indicate that the increased expression of serum xenotropic viral gp70 in response to LPS did not result from activation of replication-competent xenotropic virus. In addition, the serum gp70 response to LPS was abolished by simultaneous inoculation of an inhibitor of protein synthesis, D-galactosamine. These results strongly suggest that LPS selectively stimulates synthesis of the env gene product, gp70, of NZB xenotropic virus but other viral gene products.