The susceptibility of mouse embryonic cells to murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) infection was studied by injecting the virus in the early and mid-gestation stages. For the early stage, blastocysts from BDF1 mice were injected with MCMV or minimal essential medium (MEM) by micromanipulator and returned to the uteri of pseudopregnant ICR mice. On day 11 of gestation, the embryos were examined immunohistochemically, using antibody specific to the early antigen of MCMV, and the placentae were examined by plaque assay. No infection was detected by either method. Furthermore, no infection was detected in MCMV-infected blastocysts that were cultured and examined for infection by immunofluorescence. For mid-gestation embryos, the conceptus was injected with MCMV on day 8.5 of gestation and was subjected to immunohistochemical analysis from day 10.5 to 12.5 of gestation. Viral antigen-positive cells were first observed in the placentae, then antigen-positive cells appeared among the blood cells, endothelial and mesodermal cells of the embryos. On day 12.5 of gestation, clusters of viral antigen-positive cells were sometimes observed in the hearts and livers. Although the incidence was lower, viral antigen-positive cells were also observed in the neuroectoderm and the eyes. These results suggest that MCMV does not infect early embryos and that infection first occurs in the placenta of postimplantation embryos, whence it extends through the blood cells to the endothelial and mesodermal cells of different embryonic regions, eventually extending to the neuroectoderm.