The KAR3 gene is essential for yeast nuclear fusion during mating, and its expression is strongly induced by alpha factor. The predicted KAR3 protein sequence contains two globular domains separated by an alpha-helical coiled coil. The carboxy-terminal domain is homologous to the amino-terminal mechanochemical domain of Drosophila kinesin heavy chain. Mutation of the putative ATP binding site produces a dominant "poison" of nuclear fusion. The mutant protein shows enhanced microtubule association in vivo, as predicted for a kinesin-like protein in a state of rigor binding. Localization of hybrid proteins to cytoplasmic microtubules in shmoos indicates that the amino-terminal domain also contains determinants for microtubule association. Thus, KAR3 is a member of a larger family of kinesin-like proteins characterized by the presence of the mechanochemical domain tethered to different protein binding domains. The phenotypes of kar3 mutants suggest that the protein mediates microtubule sliding during nuclear fusion and possibly mitosis.