Numerous studies have focused on the regulatory functions of ICP27, an immediate-early (IE) protein of herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1). However, its homolog in HSV-2, termed ICP27t2, has been little studied. Here, we used two different approaches to functionally compare ICP27t2 and ICP27. In transfection-based assays, ICP27t2 closely resembled ICP27 in its capacity to enhance HSV-1 late gene expression, suppress the splicing of a viral intron, and complement the growth of an HSV-1 ICP27 null mutant. To study ICP27t2 in the context of viral infection, we engineered K2F1, an HSV-1 mutant that encodes ICP27t2 in place of ICP27. In Vero cells, K2F1 replicated with wild-type (WT) kinetics and yields, expressed delayed-early and late proteins normally, and was fully capable of activating several cellular signal transduction pathways that are ICP27 dependent. Thus, we conclude that ICP27t2 and ICP27 are functionally very similar and that ICP27t2 can mediate all ICP27 activities that are required for HSV-1 replication in cell culture. Surprisingly, however, we found that K2F1 forms plaques that are morphologically different from those ofWTHSV-1. Investigation of this trait demonstrated that it results from the decreased release of progeny virions into the culture medium. This appears to be due to a reduction in the detachment of K2F1 progeny from the extracellular surface of the infected cell.Weidentified two HSV-1 ICP27 amino-terminal deletion mutants with a similar release defect. Together, these results demonstrate that ICP27 plays a heretofore-unappreciated role in modulating the efficiency of progeny virion release.