White spot syndrome virus (WSSV) is a virus infecting shrimp and other crustaceans, which is unclassified taxonomically. A 2193 bp long open reading frame, encoding a putative protein kinase (PK), was found on a 8.4 kb EcoRI fragment of WSSV proximal to the gene for the major envelope protein (VP28). The identified PK shows a high degree of homology to other viral and eukaryotic PK genes. Homology in the catalytic domains suggests that this PK is a serine/threonine protein kinase. All of the conserved PK domains are present in the WSSV PK gene product and this allowed the alignment with PK proteins from other large DNA viruses, which encode one or more PK proteins. An unrooted parsonimous phylogenetic tree was constructed and indicated that the PK gene is well conserved in all DNA virus families and hence can be used as a phylogenetic marker. Baculoviruses to date contain only a single PK gene, which is present in a separate well bootstrap-supported branch in the tree. The WSSV PK is not present in the baculovirus clade and therefore is clearly separated phylogenetically from the baculovirus PK genes. Furthermore, the WSSV PK gene does not share a most recent common ancestor with any known PK gene from other viruses. This provides further and independent evidence for the unique position of WSSV in a newly proposed genus named Whispovirus.