Cells in which the appropriate viral receptor cannot be detected may paradoxically act as a host to the virus. For example, RD cells are often considered to be non-permissive for infection with coxsackievirus and adenovirus receptor (CAR)-dependent group B coxsackieviruses (CVB), insofar as inoculated cell monolayers show little or no cytopathic effect (CPE) and immunohistological assays for CAR have been consistently negative. Supernatants recovered from RD cells exposed to CVB, however, contained more virus than was added in the initial inoculum, indicating that productive virus replication occurred in the monolayer. When infected with a recombinant CVB type 3 (CVB3) chimeric strain expressing S-Tag within the viral polyprotein, 4-11 % of RD cells expressed S-Tag over 48 h. CAR mRNA was detected in RD cells by RT-PCR, and CAR protein was detected on Western blots of RD lysates; both were detected at much lower levels than in HeLa cells. Receptor blockade by an anti-CAR antibody confirmed that CVB3 infection of RD cells was mediated by CAR. These results show that some RD cells in the culture population express CAR and can thereby be infected by CVB, which explains the replication of CAR-dependent CVB in cell types that show little or no CPE and in which CAR has not previously been detected. Cells within cultures of cell types that have been considered non-permissive may express receptor transiently, leading to persistent replication of virus within the cultured population.