Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is a gammaherpesvirus that has been implicated in the pathogenesis of Kaposi's sarcoma. KSHV encodes K-bZIP (open reading frame K8), a protein that belongs to the basic region-leucine zipper (bZIP) family of transcription factors. Here we show that K-bZIP associates with the cellular transcription factor p53 directly in vitro and in vivo. This interaction requires the bZIP domain of K-bZIP and the carboxy-terminal region (amino acids 300 to 393) of p53. We also show that K-bZIP represses the transcriptional activity of p53 which is required for apoptosis of the host cell. These results imply that K-bZIP blocks p53-mediated host cell death through its interaction with p53.