Defects in the human gene XPV result in the variant form of the genetic disease xeroderma pigmentosum (XP-V). XPV encodes DNA polymerase eta, a novel DNA polymerase that belongs to the UmuC/DinB/Rad30 superfamily. This polymerase catalyzes the efficient and accurate translesion synthesis of DNA past cis-syn cyclobutane di-thymine lesions. In this report we present the cDNA sequence and expression profiles of the mouse XPV gene and demonstrate its ability to complement defective DNA synthesis in XP-V cells. The mouse XPV protein shares 80.3% amino acid identity and 86.9% similarity with the human XPV protein. The recombinant mouse XPV protein corrected the inability of XP-V cell extracts to carry out DNA replication, by bypassing thymine dimers on template DNA. Transfection of the mouse or human XPV cDNA into human XP-V cells corrected UV sensitivity. Northern blot analysis revealed that the mouse XPV gene is expressed ubiquitously, but at a higher level in testis, liver, skin and thymus compared to other tissues. Although the mouse XPV gene was not induced by UV irradiation, its expression was elevated approximately 4-fold during cell proliferation. These results suggest that DNA polymerase eta plays a role in DNA replication, though the enzyme is not essential for viability.