Abstract Large T antigen, the regulatory protein encoded by simian virus 40, has DNA helicase activity and unwinds double-stranded DNA at the expense of ATP. T antigen also functions as an RNA helicase separating duplex regions in partially double-stranded RNA substrates. Surprisingly, T antigen RNA helicase activity requires UTP, CTP, or GTP as a cofactor, whereas ATP is an inefficient energy source for the RNA unwinding reaction. Accordingly, T antigen has both an intrinsic non-ATP NTPase activity that is stimulated by single-stranded RNA and an ATPase activity stimulated by single-stranded DNA. Thus, it appears that the bound nucleotide determines whether T antigen acts as an RNA helicase or as a DNA helicase.