The lymphotropic Herpesvirus saimiri (HVS) causes acute leukemia, T-cell lymphoma, and death in New World monkeys. HVS encodes seven small RNAs (HSURs) of unknown function. The HSURs acquire host Sm proteins and assemble Sm cores similar to those found on the spliceosomal small nuclear RNPs (snRNPs). Here we show that, like host snRNPs, HSURs use the SMN (survival of motor neurons) complex to assemble Sm cores. The HSURs bind the SMN complex directly and with very high affinity, similar to or higher than that of host snRNAs, and can outcompete host snRNAs for SMN-dependent assembly into RNPs. These observations highlight the general utility of the SMN complex for RNP assembly and suggest that infectious agents that engage the SMN complex may burden SMN-dependent pathways, possibly leading to a deleterious reduction in available SMN complex for essential host functions.