BACKGROUND Psittacine beak and feather disease affects parrots resulting in an immunosuppressive disease that is often characterized by an abnormal shape and growth of the animal's beak, feathers, and claws. Beak and feather disease virus (BFDV) is a single-stranded circular DNA virus and is classified as a member of the Circoviridae family. Two major open reading frames (ORFs) are known to encode the replication-associated (Rep) protein and the capsid-associated (Cap) protein. METHODS The Rep and Cap genes of BFDV were fused with tags and then expressed and purified, respectively. Both the ATPase and GTPase activities of the recombinant Rep protein are measured. The substrate and ion preference, the optimal conditions, the effects of ATPase and GTPase inhibitors and the presence of Cap protein on the ATPase and GTPase activity of the Rep protein are examined. Finally, the effects of the Walker A motif, the Walker B motif, and a novel GYDG motif of the Rep protein on the ATPase and GTPase activities are studied by various mutants. RESULTS The recombinant Rep protein could display ATPase activity and GTPase activity. The Rep protein was able to hydrolyze both deoxyribonucleotides and ribonucleotides. Among nucleoside triphosphates and deoxynucleoside triphosphates, the substrate preference orders were found to be ATP>GTP>CTP≥UTP and dATP>dGTP>dTTP>dCTP, respectively. Both the ATPase and GTPase activity of the BFDV Rep protein required magnesium ions and the presence of calcium ions significantly inhibited the ATPase and GTPase activity of the Rep protein. The optimal temperatures for ATPase activity and GTPase activity were both 56 °C, while their optimal pH values were both pH 7.5. Both the ATPase activity and GTPase activity of the BFDV Rep protein were significantly down-regulated by polynucleotides and the dsDNA of 36 bp (located in origin of replication) of BFDV genome. The ATPase activity of the BFDV Rep protein was found to be more sensitive to sodium azide than sodium orthovanadate and N-ethylmaleimide. Linoleic acid more strongly inhibited the GTPase activity of the Rep protein than dynasore. This suggested the Rep protein of BFDV should be classified as an F-type ATPase and polyunsaturated fatty acid-sensitive GTPase. In the presence of 10 ng of the Cap protein, the ATPase activity and GTPase activity of the BFDV Rep protein were significantly increased. Furthermore, the BFDV Rep protein contains the Walker A motif, the Walker B motif and a novel GYDG motif. Both the ATPase activity and the GTPase activity of various deletion and site-directed mutants of the Rep protein affecting these motifs were significantly reduced, suggesting all the three motifs contribute to the ATPase and GTPase activities; specifically. In addition, the ATPase activity and GTPase activity of the deletion mutants of the Rep protein were reversed in the presence of the Cap protein. This is the first example of dual ATPase and GTPase activity being reported in the Rep protein of BFDV.