The expression and regulation of major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC class I) antigens by virus-induced human trophoblast interferons (tro-IFNs) were examined in term trophoblast cultures. Flow cytometry studies using fluorescence monoclonal antibodies against MHC class I antigens revealed that isolated cytotrophoblasts can express MHC class I antigens. The expression of these antigens increased with stimulation of trophoblast cultures with tro-IFN-α and -β. One hundred IU tro-IFN-α and -β/ml induced no significant higher levels of MHC class I antigens as compared with the control, whereas 1000 IU tro-IFN-α and -β/ml did. The tro-IFN-enhanced expression of MHC class I antigens may be important as it increases the efficiency of local and viral antigen presentation, cytotoxicity by T cell response and local inflammatory processes, thereby preventing virus spread from mother to fetus.