Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), the inducible enzyme responsible for the rate-limiting step in the heme catabolism, is expressed in AIDS-Kaposi sarcoma (KS) lesions. Its expression is up-regulated by the Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) in endothelial cells, but the mechanisms underlying KSHV-induced HO-1 expression are still unknown. In this study we investigated whether the oncogenic G protein-coupled receptor (KSHV-GPCR or vGPCR), one of the key KSHV genes involved in KS development, activated HO-1 expression. Here we show that vGPCR induces HO-1 mRNA and protein levels in fibroblasts and endothelial cells. Moreover, targeted knock-down gene expression of HO-1 by small hairpin RNA and chemical inhibition of HO-1 enzymatic activity by tin protoporphyrin IX (SnPP), impaired vGPCR-induced survival, proliferation, transformation, and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A expression. vGPCR-expressing cells implanted in the dorsal flank of nude mice developed tumors with elevated HO-1 expression and activity. Chronic administration of SnPP to the implanted mice, under conditions that effectively blocked HO-1 activity and VEGF-A expression in the transplanted cells, strikingly reduced tumor growth, without apparent side effects. On the contrary, administration of the HO-1 inducer cobalt protoporphyrin (CoPP) further enhanced vGPCR-induced tumor growth. These data postulate HO-1 as an important mediator of vGPCR-induced tumor growth and suggest that inhibition of intratumoral HO-1 activity by SnPP may be a potential therapeutic strategy.