Monocytes are primary targets for human CMV (HCMV) infection and are proposed to be responsible for hematogenous dissemination of the virus. Monocytes acquire different functional traits during polarization to the classical proinflammatory M1 macrophage or the alternative antiinflammatory M2 macrophage. We hypothesized that HCMV induced a proinflammatory M1 macrophage following infection to promote viral dissemination because, biologically, a proinflammatory state provides the tools to drive infected monocytes from the blood into the tissue. To test this hypothesis of monocyte conversion from a normal quiescent phenotype to an inflammatory phenotype, we used Affymetrix Microarray to acquire a transcriptional profile of infected monocytes at a time point our data emphasized is a key temporal regulatory point following infection. We found that HCMV significantly up-regulated 583 (5.2%) of the total genes and down-regulated 621 (5.5%) of the total genes>or=1.5-fold at 4 h postinfection. Further ontology analysis revealed that genes implicated in classical M1 macrophage activation were stimulated by HCMV infection. We found that 65% of genes strictly associated with M1 polarization were up-regulated, while only 4% of genes solely associated with M2 polarization were up-regulated. Analysis of the monocyte chemokinome at the transcriptional level showed that 44% of M1 and 33% of M2 macrophage chemokines were up-regulated. Proteomic analysis using chemokine Ab arrays confirmed the secretion of these chemotactic proteins from HCMV-infected monocytes. Overall, the results identify that the HCMV-infected monocyte transcriptome displayed a unique M1/M2 polarization signature that was skewed toward the classical M1 activation phenotype.