Culture of cell lines from fetuses or postnatal animals is an essential part of somatic cell cloning. Fetal bovine serum (FBS) is commonly used in media for propagation of these cells. Unfortunately, bovine fetuses and postnatal animals as well as FBS are all possible sources of non-cytopathic bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) which is widely distributed among cattle. This study was prompted when screening of samples sent to veterinary diagnostic labs revealed that 15 of 39 fetal fibroblast cell lines used in cloning research were positive for BVDV as determined by various assays including reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Goals of the research were to use both virus isolation and reverse transcription-nested polymerase chain reaction (RT-nPCR) to confirm which of the cell lines were actually infected with BVDV and to assay samples of media, FBS and the earliest available passages of each cell line in an attempt to determine the source of the viral infections. Sequence analysis of amplified cDNA from all isolates was performed to provide a definitive link between possible sources of virus and infected cell lines. Only 5 of the 39 cell lines were actually infected with BVDV. Three of these five lines were not infected at the earliest cryopreserved passage, leading to the conclusion that they likely became infected after culture in media containing contaminated FBS. In fact, sequence comparison of the amplified cDNA from one lot of FBS confirmed that it was the source of infection for one of these cell lines. Since BVDV was isolated from the remaining two cell lines at the earliest available passage, the fetuses from which they were established could not be ruled out as the source of the virus.