Résumé : Although its dependence on the target cell type is well established, the cytopathogenicity of parvoviruses has remained elusive to date as far as its mechanism is concerned. However, indirect evidence suggested that parvoviral non-structural (NS) proteins may be the cytotoxic effectors. In order to test this hypothesis, a molecular clone of parvovirus MVMp was modified, by replacing the P4 promoter of the NS transcription unit by the glucocorticoid-inducible promoter of the mouse mammary tumour virus. Clones of neoplastic human cells that had incorporated this construct and that were induced to produce NS proteins by dexamethasone, showed a cytopathic effect and eventually died. Our data strongly suggest that the intracellular accumulation of parvoviral NS products jeopardizes the survival of the cells, which cannot be detected unless a threshold protein concentration is reached. Interestingly, a cell variant could be isolated which resisted dexamethasone-induced killing, although it was fully inducible for the production of NS proteins. This variant was also unusually resistant to infection with MVMp virions, thus confirming the essential role played by the NS proteins in the parvoviral cytotoxicity and indicating that the cytocidal activity of the parvoviral NS products is modulated by cellular factors that may vary from one cell to another.