Eucaryotic transcription factors that stimulate RNA polymerase II by increasing the efficiency of elongation of specifically or randomly initiated RNA chains have been isolated and characterized. We have identified a 30-kilodalton (kDa) vaccinia virus-encoded protein with apparent homology to SII, a 34-kDa mammalian transcriptional elongation factor. In addition to amino acid sequence similarities, both proteins contain C-terminal putative zinc finger domains. Identification of the gene, rpo30, encoding the vaccinia virus protein was achieved by using antibody to the purified viral RNA polymerase for immunoprecipitation of the in vitro translation products of in vivo-synthesized early mRNA selected by hybridization to cloned DNA fragments of the viral genome. Western immunoblot analysis using antiserum made to the vaccinia rpo30 protein expressed in bacteria indicated that the 30-kDa protein remains associated with highly purified viral RNA polymerase. Thus, the vaccinia virus protein, unlike its eucaryotic homolog, is an integral RNA polymerase subunit rather than a readily separable transcription factor. Further studies showed that the expression of rpo30 is regulated by dual early and later promoters.