AGT (O6-alkylguanine DNA alkyltransferase) is an important DNA-repair protein that protects cells from killing and mutagenesis by alkylating agents. The AGT genes from two extremely thermophilic organisms, the bacterium Aquifex aeolicus and the archaeon Archaeoglobus fulgidus were PCR-derived and cloned into an expression vector. The nucleotide sequence of the Aq. aeolicus AGT encodes a 201-amino-acid protein with a molecular mass of 23000 Da and Ar. fulgidus AGT codes for a 147-amino-acid protein with a molecular mass of 16718 Da. The Aq. aeolicus and Ar. fulgidus AGTs were expressed at high levels in Escherichia coli fused to an N-terminal polyhistidine tag that allowed single-step isolation and purification by metal-affinity chromatography. Both AGTs formed inclusion bodies and were not soluble under native purification conditions. Therefore AGT isolation was performed under protein-denaturation conditions in the presence of 8.0 M urea. Soluble AGT was obtained by refolding the AGT in the presence of calf thymus DNA. Both AGTs were active in repairing O6-methylguanine and, at a lower rate, O4-methylthymine in DNA. They exhibited thermostability and optimum activity at high temperature. The thermostable AGTs, particularly that from Aq. aeolicus, were readily inactivated by the low-molecular-mass inhibitor O6-benzylguanine, which is currently in clinical trials to enhance cancer chemotherapy.