Strong evidence indicates that virions of mammalian reoviruses undergo proteolytic processing by acid-dependent cellular proteinases as an essential step in productive infection. Proteolytic processing takes the form of a series of cleavages of outer-capsid proteins final sigma3 and mu1/mu1C. Previous studies showed an effect of both NH4Cl and E-64 on these cleavages, indicating that one or more of the acid-dependent cysteine proteinases in mammalian cells (cathepsins B and L, for example) is required; however, these studies did not address whether acid-dependent aspartic proteinases in those cells (cathepsin D, for example) may also be required. To determine the role of aspartic proteinases in reovirus entry, studies with pepstatin A, a specific inhibitor of aspartic proteinases, were performed. The results showed that pepstatin A neither blocks nor slows reovirus infection of L or MDCK cells. Experiments using ribonuclease A and other proteins as cleavable substrates showed that cathepsin-D-like proteinases from these cells are inhibited within the tested range of pepstatin A concentrations both in vitro and within living cells. In other experiments, virion-bound final sigma3 protein was shown to be a poor substrate for cleavage by cathepsin D in vitro, consistent with the findings with inhibitors. In sum, the data indicate that cathepsin-D-like aspartic proteinases provide little or no activity toward proteolytic events required for infection of L or MDCK cells with reovirus virions.