Biochemical characterization of the herpes simplex virus (HSV) DNA polymerase, a model DNA polymerase and an important target for antiviral drugs, has been limited by a lack of pure enzyme in sufficient quantity. To overcome this limitation, the HSV DNA polymerase gene was introduced into the baculovirus, Autographa californica nuclear polyhedrosis virus, under the control of the polyhedrin promoter to give rise to a recombinant baculovirus, BP58. BP58-infected Spodoptera frugiperda insect cells expressed a polypeptide that was indistinguishable from authentic polymerase by several immunological and biochemical properties, at levels approximately ten-fold higher per infected cell than found in HSV-infected Vero cells. The DNA polymerase was purified to apparent homogeneity from BP58-infected insect cells. Using activated DNA as primer-template, the purified enzyme exhibited specific activity similar to that of enzyme isolated from HSV-infected Vero cells, indicating that additional polymerase-associated proteins from HSV-infected cells are not critical for activity with this primer-template. 3'-5' exonuclease activity co-purified with the BP58-expressed HSV DNA polymerase, demonstrating that this activity is intrinsic to the polymerase polypeptide. The purified enzyme also exhibited RNAse H activity. The recombinant baculovirus should permit detailed biochemical and biophysical studies of this enzyme.