The A19 protein of vaccinia virus (VACV) is conserved among chordopoxviruses, expressed late in infection, packaged in the virus core, and required for a late step in morphogenesis. Multiple-sequence alignments of A19 homologs indicated conservation of a series of lysines and arginines, which could represent a nuclear localization or nucleic acid binding motif, and a pair of CXXC motifs that suggested a zinc finger or redox active sites. The importance of the CXXC motif was confirmed by cysteine-to-serine substitutions, which rendered the altered protein unable to trans-complement infectivity of a null mutant. Nevertheless, the cysteines were not required for function of the poxvirus-specific redox pathway. Epitope-tagged A19 proteins were detected in the nucleus and cytoplasm in both infected and uninfected cells, but this distribution was unaffected by alanine substitutions of the arginine residues, which only partially reduced the ability of the mutated protein to trans-complement infectivity. Viral proteins specifically associated with affinity-purified A19 were identified by mass spectrometry as components of the transcription complex, including RNA polymerase subunits, RAP94 (RNA polymerase-associated protein 94), early transcription factors, capping enzyme, and nucleoside triphosphate phosphohydrolase I, and two core proteins required for morphogenesis. Further studies suggested that the interaction of A19 with the RNA polymerase did not require RAP94 or other intermediate or late viral proteins but was reduced by mutation of cysteines in the putative zinc finger domain. Although A19 was not required for incorporation of the transcription complex in virus particles, the transcriptional activity of A19-deficient virus particles was severely reduced.