The level of expression of thymidine kinase (TK), heat shock protein 70 (HSP70), beta-tubulin and p53 was assessed in human embryo kidney cells (HEKs) infected with adenovirus type 12 (Ad 12) and Ad 12 early region 1 (E1) mutants. HSP70, beta-tubulin and p53 levels were unchanged but TK activity was dramatically increased following wild-type infection. The initial activation of TK required the expression of the product of the E1A 13S mRNA but sustained expression only occurred with those viruses expressing the E1B proteins as well. A number of human cell lines transformed with either Ad 12 or Ad 5 E1 DNA were also assessed for the level of expression of HSP70, beta-tubulin and p53. Both HSP70 and beta-tubulin levels were greatly increased compared with primary human cells although there was considerable variation between lines. p53 was only expressed at high levels in Ad 12-transformed lines expressing E1A and E1B proteins.