The properties of virus and host DNA polymerases are important factors in determining the selectivity of deoxynucleotide analogs used in antiviral chemotherapy. The high affinity of herpes DNA polymerase for nucleotide analogs may be particularly important in CMV and EBV-infected cells, since these viruses do not induce the synthesis of a virus-specified thymidine kinase. In general, the effect of nucleotide analog incorporation into DNA may be summarized as follows: analogs with modifications at the base moiety do not affect the rate of DNA chain elongation whereas those modified at the sugar moiety will inhibit the rate of chain elongation. ACGTP and DHPGTP competitively inhibit incorporation of dGTP into DNA; however, steric freedom of the acyclic phosphate may allow these nucleotides to bind virus enzyme in a conformation similar to that assumed by dGTP only at the transitional stage of the enzyme reaction. This may explain the high affinity of virus enzyme for these inhibitors. The interaction of aphidicolin with virus enzyme differs from that with host enzyme. These differences suggest new strategies for antiviral chemotherapy using aphidicolin derivatives.