Saffold virus (SAFV) was identified as a human cardiovirus in 2007. Although several epidemiological studies have been reported, they have failed to provide a clear picture of the relationship between SAFV and human diseases. SAFV genotype 3 has been isolated from the cerebrospinal fluid specimen of patient with aseptic meningitis. This finding is of interest since Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus (TMEV), which is the closely related virus, is known to cause a multiple sclerosis-like syndrome in mice. TMEV persistently infects in mouse macrophage cells in vivo and in vitro, and the viral persistence is essential in TMEV-induced demyelinating disease. The precise mechanism(s) of SAFV infection still remain unclear. In order to clarify the SAFV pathogenicity, in the present study, we studied the possibilities of the in vitro persistent infection of SAFV. The two distinct phenotypes of HeLa cells, HeLa-N and HeLa-R, were identified. In these cells, the type of SAFV-3 infection was clearly different. HeLa-N cells were lyticly infected with SAFV-3 and the host suitable for the efficient growth. On the other hand, HeLa-R cells were persistently infected with SAFV-3. In addition, the SAFV persistence in HeLa-R cells is independent of type I IFN response of host cells although the TMEV persistence in mouse macrophage cells depends on the response. Furthermore, it was suggested that SAFV persistence may be influenced by the expression of receptor(s) for SAFV infection on the host cells. The present findings on SAFV persistence will provide the important information to encourage the research of SAFV pathogenicity.