A series of adenovirus type 5 (Ad5) deletion, insertion and substitution mutants, some of which are defective for transformation of rat cells, have been isolated. The mutants were selected as variants which lack the Xba I endonuclease cleavage site at 4 map units on the viral chromosome. The deletions range in size from 150-2300 bp and are located between 1.5 and 10.5 map units. The mutants can be propagated in 293 cells (Ad5-transformed human embryonic kidney cells), but are defective for growth in HeLa or human embryonic kidney cells. No viral DNA synthesis was observed in mutant virus-infected HeLa cells. All but one of the deletion mutants tested were defective for transformation of rat embryo and rat embryo brain cells.