Retroviral infection can induce transcriptional activation of genes flanking the sites of proviral integration in target cells. Because integration is essentially random, this phenomenon can be exploited for random mutagenesis of the genome, and analysis of integration sites in tumors may identify potential oncogenes. Here we have investigated this strategy in the context of astrocytoma progression. Neuroectodermal explants from astrocytoma-prone GFAP-v-src transgenic mice were infected with the ecotropic Moloney murine leukemia virus (Mo-MuLV). In situ hybridization and FACS analysis indicated that astrocytes from E12.5-13.5 embryos were highly susceptible to retroviral infection and expressed viral RNA and proteins both in vitro and in vivo. In average 80% of neuroectodermal cells were infected in vitro with 9-14 proviral integrations per cell. Virus mobility assays confirmed that Mo-MuLV remained transcriptionally active and replicating in neuroectodermal primary cultures even after 45 days of cultivation. Proviral insertion sites were investigated by inverse long-range PCR. Analysis of a limited number of provirus flanking sequences in clones originated from in vitro infected GFAP-v-src neuroectodermal cells identified loci of possible relevance to tumorigenesis. Therefore, the approach described here might be suitable for acceleration of tumorigenesis in preneoplastic astrocytes. We expect this method to be useful for identifying genes involved in astrocytoma development/progression in animal models.