The potential use of the modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) strain as a live recombinant vector to deliver antigens and elicit protective immune responses against infectious diseases demands a comprehensive understanding of the effect of MVA infection on human host gene expression. We used microarrays containing more than 15,000 human cDNAs to identify gene expression changes in human HeLa cell cultures at 2, 6, and 16 h postinfection. Clustering of the 410 differentially regulated genes identified 11 discrete gene clusters with altered expression patterns after MVA infection. Clusters 1 and 2 (accounting for 16.59% [68 of 410] of the genes) contained 68 transcripts showing a robust induction pattern that was maintained during the course of infection. Changes in cellular gene transcription detected by microarrays after MVA infection were confirmed for selected genes by Northern blot analysis and by real-time reverse transcription-PCR. Upregulated transcripts in clusters 1 and 2 included 20 genes implicated in immune responses, including interleukin 1A (IL-1A), IL-6, IL-7, IL-8, and IL-15 genes. MVA infection also stimulated the expression of NF-kappaB and components of the NF-kappaB signal transduction pathway, including p50 and TRAF-interacting protein. A marked increase in the expression of histone family members was also induced during MVA infection. Expression of the Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome family members WAS, WASF1, and the small GTP-binding protein RAC-1, which are involved in actin cytoskeleton reorganization, was enhanced after MVA infection. This study demonstrates that MVA infection triggered the induction of groups of genes, some of which may be involved in host resistance and immune modulation during virus infection.