9-(2-Phosphonylmethoxyethyl)adenine (PMEA) and 9-(2-phosphonylmethoxyethyl)-2,6-diaminopurine (PMEDAP) are selectively inhibitory to human immunodeficiency virus and other retroviruses. We have now investigated the effects of different PMEA and PMEDAP treatment schedules in newborn mice infected with Moloney murine sarcoma virus (MSV). Administration of a single dose of PMEA or PMEDAP on the day of MSV inoculation conferred a greater protective effect against MSV-induced tumor formation than when this dose was divided over two, four or seven injections per week. Also, the therapeutic index of PMEA and PMEDAP was increased if administered as a single dose. Furthermore, PMEA and PMEDAP afforded a marked antiviral protection if administered within one day before MSV infection. Thus, single doses of PMEA or PMEDAP, when administered shortly before or after MSV infection, appear to be effective in preventing the manifestations of the retroviral disease.