Authentic simian virus 40 (SV40) has been detected in association with human choroid plexus and ependymoma tumors, and SV40-like DNA sequences have been found in some human osteosarcomas. We report here an analysis of human osteosarcoma samples for the presence of SV40 DNA using PCR and primers directed at 4 distinct sites of the SV40 genome, coupled with sequence analysis. Authentic SV40 DNA sequences were detected in 5 of 10 osteosarcoma tumor samples. The SV40 regulatory region in each case was identical and of archetypal length (non-duplicated enhancer), as is usually found in natural isolates of SV40 from monkeys and in human brain tumors. A section of the gene that encodes a viral late gene product (VP1) was detected in 5 of 10 tumors and had an exact match with the known sequence of SV40. Two separated segments of the large T-antigen (T-ag) gene were found in the same 5 tumors. Analysis of the DNA sequences encoding the T-ag carboxy terminus revealed sequence variation among the tumors, as observed previously in viral DNA associated with human brain tumors. There does not appear to be a preferential association of a T-ag variable domain sequence with a given tumor type. No sequences from the regulatory region of human polyomaviruses JCV and BKV were detected in the bone tumors. We also noted less efficient recovery of SV40 DNA from tumor samples fixed in paraffin as compared to frozen tumors. Our results confirm the presence of SV40 DNA in human bone tumors and, based on the sequence variation observed for the carboxy terminus of the T-ag gene, suggest that there is not a specific SV40 strain associated with human osteosarcomas.