The Ku autoantigen is a heterodimer of 70 (p70) and ~80 kDa (p80) subunits that is the DNA-binding component of the DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK) complex involved in DNA repair and V(D)J recombination. Binding to DNA ends is critical to the function of DNA-PK, but how Ku interacts with DNA is not completely understood. To define the role of p70 and p80 and their dimerization in DNA binding, heterodimers were assembled by co-expressing the subunits using recombinant baculoviruses. Two p70 dimerization sites, amino acids 1-115 and 430-482, respectively, were identified. Binding of p70 to linear double-stranded DNA could be demonstrated by an immunoprecipitation assay, and required the C-terminal portion (amino acids 430-609), but not interaction with p80. The p70 mutants 1-600, 1-542, 1-115, and 430-600 did not bind DNA efficiently. However, DNA binding of 1-600, 1-542, and 1-115, but not 430-600, was restored by dimerization with p80, indicating that p70 has two DNA binding sites, each partially overlapping one of the dimerization sites. The C-terminal domain can bind DNA by itself, but the N-terminal domain requires dimerization with p80. These observations could be relevant to the multiple functional activities of Ku and explain controversies regarding the role of dimerization in DNA binding.