The DNA polymerase encoded by herpes simplex virus 1 consists of a single polypeptide of Mr 136,000 that has both DNA polymerase and 3'----5' exonuclease activities; it lacks a 5'----3' exonuclease. The herpes polymerase is exceptionally slow in extending a synthetic DNA primer annealed to circular single-stranded DNA (turnover number approximately 0.25 nucleotide). Nevertheless, it is highly processive because of its extremely tight binding to a primer terminus (Kd less than 1 nM). The single-stranded DNA-binding protein from Escherichia coli greatly stimulates the rate (turnover number approximately 4.5 nucleotides) by facilitating the efficient binding to and extension of the DNA primers. Synchronous replication by the polymerase of primed single-stranded DNA circles coated with the single-stranded DNA-binding protein proceeds to the last nucleotide of available 5.4-kilobase template without dissociation, despite the 20-30 min required to replicate the circle. Upon completion of synthesis, the polymerase is slow in cycling to other primed single-stranded DNA circles. ATP (or dATP) is not required to initiate or sustain highly processive synthesis. The 3'----5' exonuclease associated with the herpes DNA polymerase binds a 3' terminus tightly (Km less than 50 nM) and is as sensitive as the polymerase activity to inhibition by phosphonoacetic acid (Ki approximately 4 microM), suggesting close communication between the polymerase and exonuclease sites.