γ-2 herpes viruses, which include Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpes virus, are an important subfamily of herpes virus because of their oncogenic potential. Herpes virus saimiri (HVS) is the prototype γ-2 herpes virus and is a useful model to study the basic mechanisms of lytic replication in this subfamily. Like all herpes viruses, HVS has two distinct life cycles, latent persistence and lytic replication. Analysis of herpes virus genomes has demonstrated that, in contrast to cellular genes, most virus genes that are expressed lytically do not have introns. Herpes viruses replicate in the nucleus of the host cell, and therefore require that the viral intron-lacking mRNAs are exported from the nucleus to allow virus mRNA translation. This review focuses upon the role of HVS ORF 57, a post-transcriptional regulatory protein, which is conserved in all herpes viruses. HVS ORF 57 is a multifunctional protein involved in both trans-activation and trans-repression of target mRNAs. The major role of the ORF 57 protein in mediating viral mRNA export is considered, and the ORF 57-host cell interactions that are required for this function are discussed.