As part of the evaluation of porcine cells, tissues, and organs intended for transplantation into humans, we investigated the conditions required to induce expression and release of porcine endogenous retrovirus (PoEV) from primary cells. Pigs contain endogenous retroviral sequences encoding infectious retrovirus, yet little is known about the conditions required to activate the expression and release of PoEV from primary cells. We show here that mitogenic activation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) isolated from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) miniature pig and the Yucatan pig resulted in the activation and release of an infectious type C retrovirus. Coculture of activated porcine PBMC with pig or human cell lines resulted in the transfer and expression of PoEV-specific sequences and the establishment of a productive infection. Sequence comparison of portions of the PoEV pol gene expressed in pig cell lines productively infected with virus derived from NIH miniature pig and Yucatan pig PBMC revealed marked similarity, suggesting that one or a few loci may be capable of being activated to yield an infectious virus. These findings demonstrate that the presence of endogenous viruses in source animals needs to be carefully considered when the infectious disease potential of xenotransplantation is being assessed.