We have used Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells grown on nitrocellulose filters to study the polarity of virus infection and maturation. The cells form epithelia-like monolayers, which display high (greater than 1000 omega cm2) electrical resistance and a cuboidal morphology. Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) was found to infect the monolayer at least 100 times more efficiently when applied through the filter to the basolateral surface than when applied to the apical surface. The avian influenza, fowl plague virus (FPV), infected the monolayer through either the apical or basolateral surface. The polarity of virus budding was evaluated by harvesting virus from the two sides of the monolayer. More than 99% of released influenza hemagglutinin titre was found on the apical side of the filter, while more than 98% of budded VSV was found on the basal side. This polarity of budding was retained through 10 hr of viral infection, as was the polarity of surface expression of viral envelope proteins revealed by immunofluorescence. The strong preference of VSV for basolateral maturation is paralleled by an equally strong preference for infection through the basolateral membrane of this polar epithelial cell.