Cultured mononuclear peripheral blood leukocytes (PBL) from nonimmune human beings and monkeys are nonpermissive to dengue 2 virus (D2V) infection at multiplicities of infection of 0.001-0.1, but become permissive when non-neutralizing dengue antibody is added to medium. D2V infection occurred in PBL prepared from anti-coagulated but not from defibrinated plasma. Infection enhancement was produced by multiple lots of heterotypic anti-dengue raised in several mammalian species. Homotypic anti-dengue neutralized D2V at high concentrations but enhanced at low concentrations; enhancement end point in one serum was 1:320,000. The infection-enhancing factor was a noncytophilic antibody of the IgG class. D2V infection occurred in the absence of heat-labile complement components but did not occur when complexes were prepared with anti- dengue F(ab)(2). Treatment of PBL with several proteases increased permissiveness to D2V infection by immune complexes but not by virus alone. Two rhesus monkey serums collected 14 days after D2V infection contained an IgG antibody with high-titered enhancing activity but with no hemagglutination-inhibition or neutralizing activity. Virus-antibody complexes are irreversibly attached to PBL within 15 min and completely internalized in 60 min. There was considerable variation in cellular infection in different experiments, however, maximum virus yields usually exceeded 1,000 plaque-forming units per 1 x 10(6) PBL occurring between 2 and 4 days in culture. In vitro antibody-dependent infection of PBL provides a possible model for study of pathogenetic mechanisms in infants with dengue shock syndrome who passively acquire maternal anti-dengue IgG.