Cells from two patients with xeroderma pigmentosum complementation group E (XP-E) have been shown to lack an activity which binds specifically to UV-irradiated DNA (Chu and Chang, 1988). We investigated the occurrence of this binding activity in cell strains from nine additional, unrelated XP-E patients and found that all but one of these strains contained normal levels of the binding protein. Furthermore, the binding activity from these XP-E strains was indistinguishable from that of normal controls in thermal stability, behavior on ion-exchange chromatography, and electrophoretic mobility of protein-DNA complexes, indicating that there were no gross structural alterations in the protein. The association of XP-E with a deficiency in DNA-damage binding protein in cells from 3 of 12 XP-E patients (compared to 0 of 20 non-XP-E controls) is statistically significant (p less than 0.05), but there is no obvious correlation between the biochemical defect and the clinical or cellular characteristics of individual patients. Implications of these findings for the role of the binding protein in XP-E are discussed.