During the outbreak of influenza due to A (H3N3) viruses in Finland in 1985/6 virus pairs were isolated from the same clinical specimens in embryonated hens' eggs (CE) and in canine kidney cell cultures (MDCK). Some of these isolates, the E and M pairs, were distinguished by their reactions in haemagglutination inhibition (HI) tests carried out using polyclonal antisera, and by receptorbinding properties, as evidenced by differences in their elution activity from erythrocytes. Passage of the E- and M-virus isolates in the foreign host affected their serological characteristics, but the E virus did not convert to an M-like virus and the M virus did not convert to an E-like virus. Returning the viruses to grow in the host used for their isolation changed the serological reactions so that they were once more close to the reactions of the original isolates. This contrasts with the changes in receptor-binding properties. Rapid elution from hen erythrocytes, which has been described as a property of viruses binding to the SAα2,3Gal sequence in preference to SAα2,6Gal, characterized the virus passages grown solely in MDCK cell cultures. Cultivation of the M virus in CE, at any stage of its passage history, made the virus irreversibly incapable of elution. The M virus was more sensitive than the E virus to HI antibodies against heterologous viruses of the H3N2 subtype, and, when used as an antigen in HI serology, it more frequently (90% vs. 69%; P < 0·01) detected diagnostic antibody responses in patients infected with viruses of this subtype in 1985/6. Use of antigens with a different passage history in HI serology provided evidence that this superiority, which may be due to the ability of the virus to pick out anamnestic antibody responses, is unrelated to the receptor-binding peculiarity of the M virus under consideration. The results support the concept that the host cell can select a diversity of virus variant subpopulations from a single clinical specimen during isolation and subsequent cultivation procedures. Moreover, the MDCK-grown influenza viruses may correspond better than the egg-grown isolates to the natural epidemic viruses.