Previously, we found that a ganciclovir (GCV)-resistant clinical human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) isolate had an amino acid substitution at codon 501 (Leu --> Phe) in the delta-region C of the DNA polymerase gene. DNA polymerases have now been (partially) purified from both the GCV-resistant and sensitive parental strains and the activity of DNA polymerase and 3'-5' exonuclease compared. With respect to DNA polymerase activity, the Michaelis constant (Km) and maximum velocity (Vmax) of the GCV-resistant strain for the DNA template were lower than those of the GCV-sensitive strain. With respect to 3'-5' exonuclease activity, the Km and Vmax of the GCV-resistant strain for the DNA substrate in the presence of ammonium sulfate were lower than those of the GCV-sensitive strain, while being similar in the absence of ammonium sulfate. Although the polymerase activity of the two strains showed almost the same sensitivity for the different polymerase inhibitors, the 3'-5' exonuclease activity of the GCV-resistant strain was more resistant to these inhibitors than that of the GCV-sensitive strain.