The pathogenesis of encephalitis due to cytomegalovirus (CMV), particularly the role of microglial cells in the spread or control of infection, remains incompletely defined. In this study, microglial cells were isolated from the brains of newborn mice and infected in vitro with murine CMV (MCMV). Microglial cells supported productive MCMV replication, and the MCMV-infected microglia manifested a cytopathic effect (CPE) characteristic of CMV infection. Exposure of microglia to interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) 24 h before infection markedly suppressed virus production and resultant CPE in a dose-dependent fashion. Furthermore, the addition of IFN-gamma 2 h after infection demonstrated an antiviral effect equivalent to that achieved when IFN-gamma was administered 2 h before infection. These results demonstrate that murine microglial cells are fully permissive to MCMV replication and that IFN-gamma markedly suppresses virus expression in these cells.