Measurements of the host-cell reactivation (HCR) of mutagen-treated virus provides a very sensitive tool for detecting abnormal DNA repair. The best example of the utility of HCR studies in the examination of the DNA-repair capacity of human cells has come from studies of cells from the UV-sensitive repair-deficient xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) patients. We have examined the HCR of UV-treated adenovirus type 5 (Ad5) and type 2 (Ad2) in cells from patients with Cocayne syndrome (CS), another sun-sensitive syndrome whose cells also exhibits UV-sensitivity in culture. Comparisons with obligate heterozygotes and normal controls failed to reveal an abnromality in the HCR capacity of the CS cells. As the abnormality in DNA metabolism in CS appears to be in a late step in excision repair, a bypass mechanism may exist in these cells for circumventing the defect in the repair of viral DNA.