The stability of mRNA in Escherichia coli cells changed after phage T4 infection. Stable E. coli mRNAs such as lpp and ompA were drastically destabilized immediately after infection. In contrast, T4 phage soc mRNA that had been unstable before infection became stabilized after infection. The host RNases E and G both contributed to the destabilization of these mRNAs. Accordingly, these RNases may alter their target RNAs before and after infection. An RNA chaperon, Hfq, and polyadenylation at 3' ends of mRNA are known key factors for destabilization of ompA and lpp mRNAs in uninfected cells. However, they had no effect on the destabilization of E. coli mRNAs after infection. On the other hand, T4 infection in the presence of rifampicin or infection of a deletion mutant, Deltatk2, did not destabilize the host mRNAs. These results strongly suggest that a phage-encoded factor is responsible for the destabilization of host mRNAs. Destabilization of host mRNAs was also observed after infection by phages T2 and T7.