Development of acinar cell apoptosis and ultrastructural changes in the exorbital lacrimal and parotid glands was examined in DBA/2 mice infected with 10(2) PFU/mouse of EMC-D virus. Pyknotic acinar cells, most of which were positive for TUNEL and cleaved caspase-3 and had ultrastructural characteristics of apoptotic cells, developed earlier and were more frequently observed in the parotid gland than in the exorbital lacrimal gland, while the total damage of acinar cells and interstitial infiltration of macrophages were more prominent in the latter than in the former. These findings indicate that EMC-D virus induces acinar cell apoptosis in these glands. In addition, corresponding to the results of the detection of viral RNA signals by in situ hybridization, small aggregates of virus-like particles having typical size and structure of EMC virus were frequently observed in both the cytoplasm and the nucleus of acinar cells in the exorbital lacrimal gland, while they were found only in the cytoplasm of a few acinar cells in the parotid gland. In conclusion, between the exorbital lacrimal and parotid glands, there was a reverse relationship observed between the development of acinar cell apoptosis and that of total damage of acinar cells.