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Malignant mesothelioma is the most common primary pleural neoplasm. Association of simian virus 40 (SV40) with malignant mesothelioma has been reported, suggesting that SV40 plays an important role in the origin of a subset of these tumors. However, significant geographic variation is present as to how often this association occurs. As no study concerning SV40 in malignant mesothelioma has been reported from Japan, we examined the frequency of SV40 infection in Japanese malignant mesothelioma cases. In pleural malignant mesothelioma tissue from 35 patients in Japan, we sought the presence of SV40 large T antigen DNA using real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR), as well as expression of the viral protein using immunohistological methods. Real-time PCR demonstrated that two of 35 mesotheliomas contained DNA sequences encoding portions of SV40 large T antigen. None of the 35 malignant mesothelioma specimens showed immunoreactivity for SV40 large T antigen. SV40 infection does not appear to have a major role in the development of malignant mesothelioma in Japan. (Cancer Sci 2006; 97: 292–295)