The human parvovirus B19 causes aplastic crises in sickle cell anemia patients and the disease erythema infectiosum. So far, it has not been possible to grow B19 virus in cultured cells. Here we report the use of in vitro transcription in HeLa cell extracts and transient expression of cloned DNA transfected into HeLa cells to detect and map a strong transcriptional promoter on the B19 genome. The promoter is located near the left end of the B19 genome, at position 6 map units in the clone pYT103 (approximately 280 bp upstream of the first HindIII site), and directs transcription to the right. These results suggest that the strictly limited host range of B19 does not operate at the level of transcription from the promoter at the left end of the genome.