Interferon induction by poly(rI).poly(rC) in primary rabbit kidney and mouse L-929 cell cultures was markedly increased if the cells were previously treated with homologous interferon. This priming effect has been established with different times of exposure of the cells to poly(rI).poly(rC), and was most pronounced for short pulses of contact of the polynucleotide with the cells (10 s, 1 min). Treatment of the cells with pancreatic ribonuclease immediately after their exposure to poly(rI).poly(rC) brought about a relatively greater reduction of the interferon response in interferon-primed cells than it did in unprimed cell cultures. Priming of the cells with interferon did not increase cell-binding of poly(rI).poly(rC), whether this cell-binding was measured quantitatively (by radioactivity, upon exposure of the cells to radiolabeled polymer) or qualitatively (by antiviral activity, by assaying the cell extract for virus plaque reduction). Similarly, interferon priming did not alter the sensitivity of cell-associated poly(rI).poly(rC) to extraneous ribonuclease treatment. Finally, priming with interferon did not decrease the rate of degradation of cell-bound poly(rI).poly(rC) by cellular nucleases nor did it increase the anti-nuclease potency of the cells. The exact mechanism by which previous exposure of the cells to interferon enhances subsequent interferon production, induced by either synthetic polynucleotides or viruses, has not yet been resolved.