Two mouse L cell variant lines (CL 3 and CL 6) selected for resistance to the toxic plant lectin ricin were restricted in their ability to replicate the two alphaviruses Sindbis virus and Semliki Forest virus. CL 3 cells have been shown to exhibit increased CMP-sialic acid:glycoprotein sialyltransferase and GM3 synthetase activities, whereas CL 6 cells have been shown to contain decreased UDPgalactose:glycoprotein galactosyltransferase and UDP-N-acetylglucosamine:glycoprotein N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase activities. The adsorption of Sindbis virus to CL 6 cells was considerably reduced, suggesting that the loss or inaccessibility of the receptors for Sindbis virus accounted for a major defect in virus production in these cells. In contrast, CL 3 synthesized Sindbis viral RNA and proteins but were unable to convert the precursor glycoprotein PE2 to the structural protein E2. The cleavage of PE2 to E2 was also blocked in both CL 3 and CL 6 cells infected with Semliki Forest virus.