The dl331 mutant of adenovirus serotype 5 fails to produce virus-associated (VA) RNAI, and cells infected with this mutant do not synthesize proteins efficiently at late times in infection. The translational defect occurs at the level of polypeptide chain initiation, and cell-free extracts prepared from dl331-infected cells exhibit the defect observed in vivo. Addition of either eukaryotic initiation factor 2 (eIF-2) or guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) to these cell-free extracts restores translational activity, with GEF functioning more efficiently in this regard. These results suggest that cells infected with the dl331 mutant develop a translational block at the level of GEF-catalyzed guanine nucleotide exchange and that this block is most likely established through phosphorylation of the alpha subunit of eIF-2. In the present investigation we show that endogenous HeLa cell GEF activity is significantly reduced in cells infected with the dl331 mutant. Further, in contrast to cells infected with wild-type serotype 2 adenovirus, dl331-infected cells contain increased eIF-2 alpha kinase activity. These results indicate that VA RNAI plays a role in suppressing eIF-2 alpha kinase activity during adenovirus infection of HeLa cells.