A previously unreported single-stranded DNA-dependent nucleoside 5'-triphosphatase with DNA unwinding activity has been purified from extracts of Escherichia coli lacking the F factor. Fractions of the purified enzyme contain a major polypeptide of Mr = 75,000 which contains the active site(s) for both ATP hydrolysis and helicase activity. This is consistent with the results of gel filtration chromatography which indicate a native molecular mass of 75 kDa. The 75-kDa helicase has a preference for ATP (dATP) as a substrate in the hydrolysis reaction and requires the presence of a single-stranded DNA cofactor. The helicase reaction catalyzed by the enzyme has been characterized using an in vitro strand displacement assay. The 75-kDa helicase displaces a 71-nucleotide DNA fragment in an enzyme concentration-dependent and time-dependent reaction. The helicase reaction depends on the presence of a hydrolyzable nucleoside 5'-triphosphate (NTP) suggesting that NTP hydrolysis is required for the unwinding activity. In addition, the enzyme can displace a 343-nucleotide DNA fragment albeit less efficiently. The direction of the unwinding reaction is 3' to 5' with respect to the strand of DNA on which the enzyme is bound. The molecular size of this helicase and the direction of the unwinding reaction are similar to both helicase II and Rep protein. However, the 75-kDa helicase has been shown to be distinct from both helicase II and Rep protein using immunological, physical, and genetic criteria. The discovery of a new helicase brings the total number of helicases found in E. coli cell extracts (lacking F factor) to five.