The phage T4 denV gene, coding for the pyrimidine-dimer specific T4 endonuclease V, was transfected into human repair-proficient fibroblasts, repair-deficient xeroderma pigmentosum fibroblasts, and into wild type CHO hamster cells. Transfectants maintained denV DNA and expressed denV mRNA. Purified T4 endonuclease V encapsulated in liposomes was also used to treat repair-proficient and -deficient human cells. The denV transfected clones and liposome-treated cells showed increased unscheduled DNA synthesis and enhanced removal of pyrimidine dimers compared to controls. Both denV gene transfection and endonuclease V liposome treatment enhanced post-UV survival in xeroderma pigmentosum cells but had no effect on survival in repair-proficient human or hamster cells. The results demonstrate that an exogenous DNA repair enzyme can correct the DNA repair defect in xeroderma pigmentosum cells and enhance DNA repair in normal cells.