Direct infection of tumor cells with viruses transferring protective or therapeutic genes, a frequently used procedure for production of tumor vaccines in human gene therapy, is an approach which is often limited by the number of tumor cells that can reliably be infected as well as by issues of selectivity and safety. We report an efficient, selective and safe way of infecting human tumor cells with a natural virus with interesting pleiotropic immune stimulatory properties, the avian paramyxovirus Newcastle disease virus (NDV). Two of the six viral genes (HN and F) modify the tumor cell surface by introduction of new adhesion molecules for lymphocyte interactions and other viral genes stimulate host cell genes and local production of cytokines and chemokines which can recruit a broad antitumor response in vivo. A large variety of human tumor cells is shown to be efficiently infected by NDV with viral replication being independent of tumor cell proliferation. Such properties make NDV a suitable agent for modification of noncultured freshly isolated and gamma-irradiated patient-derived tumor cells. For the apathogenic non-lytic strain NDV-Ulster which is used in our clinical vaccine trials, we demonstrate selective replication in tumor cells as compared with corresponding normal cells. Furthermore, we present evidence that new virions produced by infected tumor cells are non-infectious using three different quantitative test methods. Our results demonstrate feasibility and broad applicability of this strategy of human tumor vaccine modification. Post-operative vaccination with the autologous virus-modified vaccine ATV-NDV thus provides a reasonable potential for pleiotropic modifications of the immune response of cancer patients against their own tumor.