Sequences of the SV40 virus, a virus of Asian macaques, have been found in human tumors, such as pleural mesotheliomas, ependimomas and choroid plexus tumors. Transgenic mice carrying the SV40 large T gene under the transcriptional control of the thyroglobulin gene promoter, develop thyroid dedifferentiation and follicular thyroid cell proliferation, leading to thyroid hyperplasia and adenocarcinomas. On these bases we investigated the presence of SV40 DNA sequences in 69 samples of papillary thyroid carcinomas (PTC) and in other thyroid and non-thyroid carcinomas, as well as in benign thyroid diseases. By Southern blot and PCR amplification followed by sequence analysis, we found the presence of SV40-related sequences integrated in the tumoral DNA of three cases of PTC. At least the 203 bp fragment of the aminoterminus of large T antigen, the 294 bp fragment of the VP1 gene and the 483 bp entire regulatory region were present in the tumoral DNA of these patients. SV40 sequences were not found in tissues other than PTC. Our results demonstrate that, in addition to previous findings in mesotheliomas and brain tumors, SV40 is somehow linked to papillary thyroid carcinoma. Although our data do not demonstrate a causative role in the development of PTC, this possibility must be considered and requires further studies.