Infection of primary cultures of total splenic and thymic cells from BALB/c and C3H/HeN mice with CVB4 E2 and JVB strains has been investigated. The presence of positive-strand viral RNA within cells was determined by semi-nested RT-PCR, and viral replication was attested by detection of intracellular negative-strand viral RNA and by release of infectious particles in culture supernatants. Viral replication occurred with both CVB4 strains to an extent dependent on the genetic background of the host. No interferon-α production was detected in the supernatants of CVB4-infected cultures using biological titration. Together these results suggest that infection of splenic and thymic cells can play a role in virus dissemination, and therefore in the pathophysiology of CVB4 infections.