The influenza A virus NEP (NS2) protein is an structural component of the viral particle. To investigate whether this protein has an effect on viral RNA synthesis, we examined the expression of an influenza A virus-like chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) RNA in cells synthesizing the four influenza A virus core proteins (nucleoprotein, PB1, PB2, and PA) and NEP from recombinant plasmids. Influenza A virus NEP inhibited drastically, and in a dose-dependent manner, the level of CAT expression mediated by the recombinant influenza A virus polymerase. This inhibitory effect was not observed in an analogous artificial system in which expression of a synthetic CAT RNA is mediated by the core proteins of an influenza B virus. This result ruled out the possibility that inhibition of reporter gene expression was due to a general toxic effect induced by NEP. Analysis of the virus-specific RNA species that accumulated in cells expressing the type A recombinant core proteins and NEP showed that there was an important reduction in the levels of minireplicon-derived vRNA, cRNA, and mRNA molecules. Taken together, the results obtained suggest a regulatory role for NEP during virus-specific RNA synthesis, and this finding is discussed regarding the biological implications for the virus life cycle.