Nucleoside and nucleotide analogues, which are inhibitors of human immunodeficiency virus reverse transcriptase, are highly active inhibitors of visna virus replication in cell cultures. One such analogue, the acyclic nucleoside phosphonate PMEA, has also been found to have a prophylactic effect on visna virus infection in lambs. In the present study, lambs were injected subcutaneously with 10 mg/kg PMEA three times a week starting 4 weeks after inoculation with visna virus, when brain infection had been established. After 3 weeks of treatment there was a reduction in the amount of virus isolated from blood cells of PMEA-treated lambs compared to controls and during the remaining 7 months of drug treatment there was significantly less virus isolated from the blood cells of treated lambs than of controls. Antibody response against visna virus was also slower in the treated than in the untreated control group. On the other hand, there was no difference in the amount of virus isolated from various organs of the two groups and the severity of CNS lesions in sheep treated with PMEA for 8 months was comparable to that found in untreated controls, even though PMEA reached concentrations in the cerebrospinal fluid which were well in excess of the EC50 value of the drug for visna virus.