Antipeptide sera were used to identify a novel glycoprotein encoded by the UL53 gene of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). The UL53 gene product is thought to play a central role in regulating membrane fusion because mutations giving rise to the syncytial phenotype, wherein cells are extensively fused, frequently map to this gene. A single 40-kDa protein, designated gK (the ninth HSV-1 glycoprotein to be described), was detected with antipeptide sera in cells infected with both wild-type and syncytial strains of HSV-1 which were labelled with [35S]methionine and [35S]cysteine or with [3H]glucosamine, and this protein was sensitive to treatment of cells with tunicamycin. With all other HSV glycoproteins studied to date, at least two glycosylated species, often differing substantially in electrophoretic mobility, have been observed in infected cells; thus, gK is unusual in this respect. The 40-kDa gK protein was also immunoprecipitated from cells infected with a recombinant adenovirus vector carrying the UL53 gene. Two glycosylated species of 39 and 41 kDa were produced when UL53 mRNA was translated in vitro in the presence of microsomes, and these proteins differed from gK produced in infected cells not only because they possessed different electrophoretic mobilities but also because they were unable to enter gels after being heated. In addition, a 36-kDa protein was detected in extracts from cells infected with HSV-2 with use of these sera.