WSN (H0N1) influenza virus upon undiluted passages in different species of cells, namely, bovine kidney (MDBK), chicken embryo (CEF), and HeLa cells, produced a varying amount of defective interfering (DI) virus which correlated well with the ability of the species of cell to produce infectious virus. However, the nature of the influenza DI viral RNA produced from a single clonal stock was essentially identical in all three cells types, suggesting that these cells do not exert a great selective pressure in the amplification of specific DI viral RNAs either at early or late passages. DI viruses produced from one subtype (H0N1) could interfere with the replication of infectious viruses belonging to other subtypes (H1N1, H3N2). DI viral RNAs could also replicate with the helper function of other subtype viruses. The persistent infection of MDBK and HeLa cells could be initiated by coinfecting cells with both temperature-sensitive mutants (ts-) and DI influenza viruses. Persistently infected cultures cultures at early passages (up to passage 7) showed a cyclical pattern of cell lysis and virus production (crisis), whereas, at later passages (after passage 20), they produced little or no virus and were resistant to infection by homologous virus but not by heterologous virus. The majority of persistently infected cells, however, contained the complete viral genome since they expressed viral antigens and produced infectious centers. Selection of a slow-growing temperature-sensitive variant rather than the presence of DI virus or interferon appears to be critical in maintaining persistent influenza infection in these cells.