X-irradiation of outbred Swiss mice resulted in the development of virus-free thymomas. When put in culture, a lymphoblastic cell line (NIXT) expressed neither particles nor infectious virus but supported the growth of pure ecotropic murine leukemia viruses (MuLVs) without generating any envelope recombinant (RM) MuLV in more than 20 months of culture. These cells did not support the growth of RM-MuLVs and completely excluded the entry of all RM-MuLV pseudotypes of murine sarcoma virus, suggesting specific viral interference. Radioimmunocompetition and immunofluorescence assays with broadly reactive anti-MuLV-p30 and -gp70 antisera were negative. However, in immunofluorescence with antisera specifically reactive against RM-MuLV gp70, about 5-20% of the population of parental cells or their clones were positive. NIXT cells treated with this antiserum bound protein A and exhibited complement-dependent cytotoxicity as assessed by several assays. NIXT cells could partially absorb neutralizing antibody specific for RM-MuLVs. Based on radioimmunoprecipitation tests, NIXT cells bore, on the cell surface, a glycosylated protein (gp70) reactive with RM subgroup as well as some group-specific anti-gp70 antisera. The glycoprotein was also found free in the supernates of NIXT cells. Using affinity chromatography, we determined the peptide pattern of the gp70 from NIXT cells to determine its structural relationship to gp70s of other MuLVs. NIXT gp70 was found to be highly related to class III endogenous xenotropic gp70s but, in addition, had peptide characteristics of RM-gp70s. Apparently, NIXT cells code for an unusual gp70 protein in the absence of other MuLV expression. The possible role of this glycoprotein in leukemogenesis is discussed.