Three mutants of simian virus 40 (SV40), with deletions near the 3' end of the A gene, displayed a host range phenotype for growth and virus production in various African green monkey kidney cell lines. The mutants formed plaques in CV-1P cells at 40.5 degrees, in BSC-1 cells at 37 and 40.5 degrees, and in Vero cells at 32, 37, and 40.5 degrees. Virus yields in these three lines were cold sensitive: the burst size was greatest at 40.5 degrees and least at 32 degrees, but some progeny was produced under all conditions examined. Mutant yields never exceeded 10% of wild-type yields under the most permissive conditions (Vero cells at 37 or 40 degrees) and were less than 1% of wild type under the most restrictive conditions (CV-1P cells at 32 degrees). These mutants can be complemented by any SV40 mutant which produces a large T antigen containing a normal COOH-terminus. Mutants whose T antigens could not be transported to the nucleus were most efficient at complementation. Mutant virus production in a line of rhesus monkey kidney cells and in primary cultures of African green and rhesus monkey kidney cells was also substantially below wild type. These mutants were also completely defective for adenovirus helper function. Our data suggest that the host range property and adenovirus helper function represent the same activities of large T antigen.