Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) can be transferred to patients by blood transfusions or human blood preparations, such as cryoprecipitates or factor VIII concentrates. Retroviruses have been discussed as infectious AIDS agents and more recently human T-lymphotropic retroviruses designated as HTLV type III and LAV (lymphadenopathy-associated virus) have been isolated from AIDS patients. Whether heat treatment at 60 degrees C (pasteurization) of liquid human plasma protein preparations inactivates retroviruses was therefore investigated. Pasteurization had already been included in the routine manufacturing process of human plasma protein preparations in order to guarantee safety with regard to hepatitis B. Since high titer preparations of human retroviruses were not available, heat inactivation was studied using Rous sarcoma virus added to the various plasma protein preparations tested. This retrovirus which was obtained in preparations of 6.0 log10 FFU/ml was shown to be at least as heat stable as two mammalian retroviruses studied, i.e., feline and simian sarcoma virus. In all of eight different plasma protein preparations tested, Rous sarcoma virus was completely inactivated after a heat treatment lasting no longer than 4 hr. It is thus concluded that pasteurization of liquid plasma protein preparations at 60 degrees C over a period of 10 hr must confer safety to these products with respect to AIDS, provided that the AIDS agents are retroviruses of comparable heat stability as Rous sarcoma virus and the mammalian retroviruses tested.