Aphidicolin is a potent inhibitor of both host cell DNA polymerase alpha and herpes simplex virus (HSV)-induced DNA polymerase but has no effect on DNA polymerases beta and gamma of host cells. By using an aphidicolin-resistant mutant (Aphr) of HSV, a possible involvement of DNA polymerase alpha in host cell reactivation of UV-damaged HSV was studied. Plaque formation by UV-irradiated Aphr was markedly inhibited by 1 microgram of aphidicolin per ml, which did not affect the plating efficiency of nonirradiated Aphr. Aphidicolin added before 12 h postinfection inhibited plaque formation by irradiated Aphr, which became aphidicolin insensitive after 36 h postinfection. The results strongly suggest that host cell DNA polymerase alpha is involved in the repair of UV-irradiated HSV DNA.