The time-course of intranuclear Simian virus 40 (SV40) tumor (T) antigen synthesis and accumulation in permissive CV1 monkey cells and nonpermissive 3T3 mouse cells has been studied by immunofluorescence and cytofluorometry. CV1 cells accumulate T antigen continuously over a period of 48 h after infection, whereas in 3T3 cells the T-antigen content remains about constant and at a comparatively low level. Only those CV1 cells which have attained a threshold concentration of intranuclear T antigen synthesize viral capsid proteins (V antigen). In nonpermissive 3T3 cells, the T-antigen threshold value for the onset of V-antigen synthesis is higher than in CV1 cells and is never reached by infected cells. However, 3T3 cells microinjected with sufficient amounts of SV40 DNA easily surpass this value and behave permissively.