The prion protein (PrP) is crucially involved in transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE), but neither its exact role in disease nor its physiological function are known. Here we show for mice, using histological, immunochemical and PCR-based methods, that stimulation of innate resistance was followed by appearance of numerous endogenous retroviruses and ensuing PrP up-regulation in germinal centers of the spleen. Subsequently, the activated retroviruses disappeared in a PrP-dependent manner. Our results reveal the regular involvement of endogenous retroviruses in murine immune responses and provide evidence for an essential function of PrP in the control of the retroviral activity. The interaction between PrP and ubiquitous endogenous retroviruses may allow new interpretations of TSE pathophysiology and explain the evolutionary conservation of PrP.