The persistence of a previously characterized spumavirus strain (strain SV-522) was investigated utilizing various laboratory media and waters, including Eagle's minimal essential medium (EMEM) plus 0% fetal bovine serum (EMEM-0%), EMEM-2%, EMEM-10%, Chlamydia transport medium (CTM), phosphate-buffered saline, distilled, estuarine, and marine water, human serum, and the germicides, ethyl alcohol (70%) and sodium hypochlorite (10%). Experiments were performed at 4 degrees C and/or 23 degrees C. Infectivity endpoints were determined in stock aliquots upon initiation of testing and then after 3, 5, 7, and 10 days. The virus was reisolated from all diluents after 5 days at 23 degrees C and in EMEM-10% after 7 days. The virus was detected in CTM, EMEM-2%, EMEM-10%, and estuarine and marine waters after 7 days at 4 degrees C. Differences in the persistence of the virus may be ascribed to temperature and organic load. Water ionic strengths (e.g., estuarine vs. marine water) had no effect on modifying persistence of viral particles. Infectivity of spumavirus was undetectable after 30 s in 70% ethanol or 10% sodium hypochlorite. After 30 min at 23 degrees C, spumavirus infectivity in normal but not heat-inactivated human serum increased by almost 100-fold. Persistence of infectivity of primate spumavirus after 7 days in media and waters, and the agent's infectious potential in the human host, emphasize a need for cautious recognition during the manipulation of primate cells/organs and in the handling of primates themselves.