[en] Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) encodes four putative immediate-early proteins based on sequence homology with herpes simplex virus type I: the products of ORF4, -61, -62, and -63. Until now, only two VZV proteins have been described as being truly expressed with immediate-early kinetics (IE62 and IE63). The ORF4-encoded protein can stimulate gene expression either alone or in synergy with the major regulatory protein IE62. Making use of a sequential combination of transcription and protein synthesis inhibitors (actinomycin D and cycloheximide, respectively), we demonstrated the immediate-early nature of the ORF4 gene product, which can thus be named IE4. The fact that IE4 is expressed with kinetics similar to that of IE62 further underlines the possible cooperation between these two VZV proteins in gene expression. Analysis of the IE4-mediated autologous or heterologous viral gene expression at the mRNA levels clearly indicated that IE4 may have several mechanisms of action. Activation of the two VZV genes tested could occur partly by a posttranscriptional mechanism, since increases in chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) mRNA levels do not account for the stimulation of CAT activity. On the other hand, stimulation of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 long terminal repeat-or the cytomegalovirus promoter-associated CAT activity is correlated with an increase in the corresponding CAT mRNA.