Mouse teratocarcinomas provide a useful model of mammalian differentiation, because the malignant embryonal carcinoma (EC) stem cells of such tumours may produce various differential cell types in vivo or in vitro. Many EC cell lines have now been established and classified on the basis of their ability to differentiate in vivo into cell types characteristically derived from any of the three germ layers. There is convincing evidence that EC cells can neither produce interferon, nor respond to it by becoming resistant to virus, whereas differentiated cells derived from EC lines behave normally in both respects. We investigated the lack of responsiveness of EC cells towards interferon by measuring the levels of two double-stranded RNA-dependent enzyme activities recently shown to be enhanced by interferon. We report here that on treatment with interferon, EC cells show increased 2-5A synthetase levels comparable to those found in differentiated cells, while there is little or no effect on kinase activity in EC cells, in contrast to their differentiated counterparts.