Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) is the leading neoplasm of AIDS patients, and HIV infection is known to be a major risk factor for its development. However, KS can occur in the absence of HIV infection and the risk of KS development varies widely even among HIV-infected patients, with homosexual men with AIDS being 20 times more likely to develop KS than AIDS-afflicted children or hemophiliacs. These and other data strongly suggest that a sexually transmitted agent or co-factor may be involved in KS pathogenesis. Recently, DNA sequences corresponding to the genome of a novel member of the herpesvirus family have been identified within AIDS-KS biopsies, and several reports indicate that these sequences are also present in all forms of HIV-negative KS. These and other findings suggest this new agent, referred to as KS-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) or human herpesvirus 8 (HHV8), as a candidate for the putative etiologic cofactor. However, the role of this agent in KS remains hotly debated. Further progress in understanding its biology has been severely hampered by the lack of a cell culture system for virus growth. Here we report the development of a system for the lytic growth of this virus in a latently infected B cell line and present the first ultrastructural visualization of the virus. This system will facilitate the detailed study of the molecular biology of viral replication, the testing of antiviral drugs and the development of diagnostic tests for viral infection.