In attempts to transform and immortalize human cell cultures, skin fibroblasts from normal donors of different ages, from patients with the premature ageing diseases Werner's syndrome (WS) and progeria (PR), and from donors with the cancer-prone diseases ataxia telangiectasia (AT), Bloom's syndrome (BS) and Fanconi's anaemia (FA), were infected with SV40 virus and their growth monitored thereafter. Lesch-Nyhan (LN) fibroblasts were also infected. SV40-infected cultures from two normal and from WS, AT and LN donors attained a spectrum of transformed properties, high mitotic activity at confluence, presence of T-antigen, anchorage independence and altered morphology. Most of these pretransformed cultures died in the crisis period. However, two cultures from the WS and LN patients survived the crisis period and have now been grown to more than 200 passages. For the LN culture the crisis period was at least 200 days. Both permanent lines retain the properties of pretransformed cells, but differ in their modal chromosome number and ability to grow in methionine-free medium. It can be concluded from these experiments that transformation by SV40 to permanent lines is a rare event in human skin fibroblasts, even when these cells were taken from patients predisposed to form cancers.