Clonal cell lines derived from cultures infected with a polytropic MuLV release vastly different levels of infectious virions ranging from undetectable to very high. Low producing clones release an overwhelming proportion of non-infectious virions containing retroviral RNA but deficient in the Env protein. Non-infectious virion production is not due to an inability of the cells to support infectious MuLV production or to an inherent replicative defectiveness of the proviruses. Reinfection of the lowest producing lines with the polytropic or an ecotropic MuLV results in enormous increases in the specific infectivity of the released virions. This indicates a reversible state of retroviral latency characterized by the release of non-infectious virions that is likely the result of insufficient levels of Env protein required for infectivity. The latency state described here may have important roles in in vivo retroviral infections including alterations of the immune response and the production of defective interfering particles.