The p53 tumor-suppressor gene has been implicated in the inducible activation of excision repair of ultraviolet (UV)-induced cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers (CPDs) in human cells. Because the large T antigen (LTAg) of the simian virus 40 (SV40) binds p53 protein and can interfere with its function, it was of interest to study DNA repair in normal human fibroblasts that had been transformed by SV40 compared with that in their nontransformed parental counterparts and to determine whether such transformation attenuated global genomic repair (GGR) of CPDs. Three methods were used to measure GGR in UV-irradiated cells: (i) an immunoassay using monoclonal antibodies specific for CPDs or 6-4 photoproducts (6-4PPs), (ii) zone sedimentation in alkaline sucrose gradients to measure the average DNA strand size after specific nicking at CPD sites in duplex DNA with T4 endonuclease V (TEV), and (iii) Southern hybridization of TEV-treated DNA with strand-specific mRNA probes to assess removal of CPDs from either strand of a defined genetic sequence in an expressed gene. Whereas repair of 6-4PPs was very similar in paired SV40-transformed and primary fibroblasts, GGR of CPDs was significantly reduced in the SV40-transformed cells. In contrast, SV40 transformation did not appreciably affect the efficiency of transcription-coupled repair. These data support the hypothesis that SV40 transformation can result in reduced levels of GGR, most likely because of the inhibition of normal p53 function by LTAg.