Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is a newly discovered herpesvirus etiologically associated with Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) and two lymphoproliferative disorders. We describe a KSHV vbcl-2 gene with homology to the proto-oncogene bcl-2. It is expressed in KS lesions and in cell lines derived from primary effusion lymphomas. Using yeast and human cells we demonstrate the ability of KSHV vBcl-2 protein to suppress Bax toxicity. We show that KSHV vBcl-2 heterodimerizes with human Bcl-2 in a yeast two-hybrid system. These results suggest that KSHV vBcl-2 plays an anti-apoptotic role in virus infected cells.